IPL 2024: Mystery continues over fitness of star Indian players

Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul are at various stages of recovery from injuries

Surya Kumar Yadav of Mumbai Indians departs during match 10 of season 13 of the Dream 11 Indian Premier League (IPL) between The Royal Challengers Bangalore and The Mumbai Indians held at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on the 28th September 2020.  Photo by: Ron Gaunt  / Sportzpics for BCCI
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The Indian Premier League begins this week but there is still a lot of uncertainty over the readiness of a number of star Indian names, putting a spanner in the works of the franchises and even the national team.

World No1 T20 batsman Suryakumar Yadav is struggling to be fit in time for the start of the IPL. The Mumbai Indians batsman has been out of action since December after undergoing ankle and hernia surgery. He is currently undergoing rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru and is yet to receive the all clear from the medical panel.

Yadav is the most important member of Mumbai's batting line-up and new captain Hardik Pandya will need every resource available as he needs a positive start to calm the nerves of a fanbase that has been antagonised by the clandestine change of leadership.

There are more such cases across the IPL. India middle order batsman Shreyas Iyer - star of their ODI World Cup campaign - has been in and out of the cricket field recently due to a back injury that affected his place in the team, resulted in confusion over his availability for domestic cricket, cost him a central contract and has now put a question mark over his fitness for Kolkata Knight Riders, where he is the captain.

According to the Indian Express, Iyer has been asked to ease into his workload and not stretch a lot while batting. How exactly that can be done remains to be seen as many trigger movements while batting are automatic.

KL Rahul - the captain of Lucknow Super Giants - has been given similar advice. The Press Trust of India reported that Rahul, who suffered a quadriceps injury during the Test series against England, has been asked to avoid wicketkeeping for now.

As things stand, the three players will either be unavailable or play with some restrictions when the tournament begins this Friday.

Another big player who will have the spotlight on him and his fitness levels is wicketkeeper batsman Rishabh Pant.

Pant had been out of action since a horror car crash in December 2022 that resulted in damaged ligament in his right knee, injured wrist and ankle, and required multiple surgeries and an intensive rehabilitation programme.

Pant has not played a single competitive match since then but has been declared fit to play in the IPL for Delhi Capitals as wicketkeeper and batsman.

Pant was promptly named captain of the franchise after he received the all clear.

"Grit and fearlessness have always dictated his brand of cricket," club chairman and co-owner Parth Jindal said in statement, adding the team were "delighted" to welcome him back as captain.

"I can't wait to see him walk our team out once again as we look forward to a new season with renewed passion, vigour and enthusiasm," Jindal added.

Pant was replaced as skipper of Delhi Capitals by David Warner last year.

If he gets anywhere close to his best, Pant is expected to get right back into the Indian team for the T20 World Cup in the West Indies and United States in June.

Updated: March 20, 2024, 1:07 PM