IPL Social: All the big talking points from the world’s richest cricket competition

Will Kings XI Punjab batsman Chris Gayle (right) light up the Indian Premier League again?

It’s being played in a different country. There are no crowds. Some players have opted out. And it will take place 175 days later than expected.

But we can look past that because… the richest and explosive annual tournament in world cricket is back.

On 19 September, the delayed Indian Premier League returns for its 13th edition as venues in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah host the competition.

Over the next two months, BBC Sport’s IPL social will be bringing you the best of the glitz, glamour, talking points, player and fan reactions and behind-the-scenes footage from the often weird and wonderful world of IPL cricket.

Living in luxury

There has been strict Covid-19 testing and all those involved with the eight franchise teams are required to quarantine in the team hotel for seven days after landing in the United Arab Emirates.

A whole week cooped up in a hotel with your work colleagues, sounds tough, right?

Well, maybe not if you’re a member of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) team…

And reigning champions Mumbai Indians have also spared no expense…

Air hockey, arcade games, pool tables and even a golf simulator. It’s a hard life, eh?

Can we expect some rustiness?

India and RCB captain Virat Kohli has not played competitive cricket since losing a Test series away to New Zealand at the start of March.

Can we expect some rustiness from the superstar batsman? If this net session is anything to go by then no, probably not…

As the old adage goes, catches win matches. And the IPL has treated to us some fine grabs in years gone by. Last year alone, we saw some incredible takesexternal-link.

And Kings XI Punjab’s Jagadeesha Suchith will be hoping he can replicate this from a recent fielding drill…

“Please tell me you got that?” … there’s one for your showreel, Suchith.

It’s a shame that team-mate Chris Gayle couldn’t quite do the same, but he’s still claiming it…

‘Back to school’ for the Universe Boss

The return of the IPL does also mean the return of the ‘Universe Boss’.

West Indies T20 great Gayle is already an IPL legend. He has hit the most sixes (326) in the tournament’s history and smashed his way towards achieving the highest ever individual score, an unbeaten 175 in 2013.

Turning 41 two days after the tournament starts, Gayle can still single-handedly win matches in franchise cricket. In last year’s IPL he scored 490 runs from 14 matches, averaging 40.83.

But there was a slight worry for IPL fans that Gayle might not make it this year, after reports that he had attended sprinter Usain Bolt’s birthday celebrations in Jamaica, with Bolt subsequently testing positive for coronavirus.

But Gayle has now linked up with the Kings XI Punjab team after returning two negative Covid-19 tests. And with a “new headmaster” in coach Anil Kumble and “new headboy” in newly appointed captain KL Rahul, Gayle says he is enjoying being “back in school”…

Dog ate my homework, sir. It would take a brave man to give the Universe Boss a detention.

Will England stars light up the IPL?

Fresh from a T20 series victory against Australia, some of England’s biggest stars will be playing in the competition, including limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan, opener Jonny Bairstow, fast bowler Jofra Archer and wicketkeeper Jos Buttler.

And Buttler’s heroics against Australia didn’t go unnoticed by his Rajasthan Royals team…

Moustache or no moustache?

You can be assured that the IPL social covers all the hard-hitting issues in world cricket. So, has New Zealand fast bowler and Kolkata Knight Riders star Lockie Ferguson kept his illustrious facial hair?

Here’s the answer…

Don’t shave it off, Lockie, we think it looks fan-tache-tic.

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