At least three franchises, Chennai Super Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Capitals confirmed that they are preparing a roster of net bowlers.
The list comprises mostly first-class, Under-19 and Under-23 state-level players who will get to bowl to the likes of MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Rishabh Pant for close to a month. The convention all these years has been using local bowlers for nets apart from the junior fringe players but the strict biosecurity measures for the tournament this time means that all franchises will have to arrange for quality bowlers during practice sessions.
The franchises have not been specified by the IPL how large a contingent they can fly to the UAE but it could be safely assumed that most of the eight sides will not avail any local net bowlers.
“If all goes well, we are planning to take around 10 bowlers exclusively to UAE for the practice sessions. They will be accompanying the team and will remain till the tournament starts,” Super Kings CEO Kasi Vishwanathan said on Tuesday.
The Knight Riders confirmed that it will also have 10 net bowlers in its roster, likely to be handpicked by former Mumbai captain and its academy coach Abhishek Nayar. “It will be a blend of players who have played Ranji Trophy while some of them have played U-23 and U-19 national level tournaments,” someone privy to developments in the Knight Riders camp informed.
The Capitals are also taking around six net bowlers who will be a part of the team’s ‘bio bubble’. “They will be staying with the squad and will travel with the team for the net sessions,” a franchise source said.
Rajasthan Royals is also on course to finalise the number of net bowlers it will carry. The Royals as well as Royal Challengers Bangalore can fly out bowlers from their own respective academies.
It is expected that there will be a healthy number of spinners in overall net bowlers’ list. “On slow Dubai tracks, it will be important that teams stack up their line-up with more spinners especially for humid conditions. You will see a lot of left-arm spinners and wristspinners, who have played a decent level of cricket, being included apart from the pacers,” a senior talent scout of a franchise said.