BOLD Diaries: RCB’s Quarantine in UAE Begins
It’s 8:30 on the morning of 21st August. Sleepy eyes swelled with determination to prove that it’s all worth it quietly check out of the Taj West End. A few new faces, some old stalwarts, an ever-pestering Mr Nags, and a heavy contingent of everybody that is needed to get the games going, but the scenes outside the hotel are only as normal as you would perceive them to be.
With social distancing norms in place and masks on faces, it’s difficult to recognize who is who unless you are a fan who could guess a player with tattoos and his physical demeanour.
There is not much interaction except for a few customary photos before the caravan moves to the international airport in Bengaluru. On a usual day, the news of RCB reaching the airport would have set a frenzy but these are not normal times and kudos to the public and staffers at the airport, every arrangement seems set in place – as immaculately as it were planned.
A couple of selfie requests are turned down politely due to safety concerns before the formalities of boarding. For fans, it hard to resist getting near their stars but it's pleasantly surprising to note that the they understand the gravity of the whole situation and refrain from pestering further.
The arrangements in the flights are planned in accordance with the SOP, much like they were back in the hotel and during the bus ride to the airport: a member per row with their onboard snacks already in place.
The four-hour-long flight mostly goes into compensating for lack of sleep. Except for net bowler Sushant Mishra, who decides to spend the time watching the shows on his phone. Jharkhand's Mishra is one of the five-players selected as net bowlers for the team.
On landing, Dubai airport is much different. There’s enough hullabaloo but it’s not chaotic enough, something that you'd normally associate with the arrival of a team led by Virat Kohli. The medical forms along with ‘COVID-19 – Not Detected’ certificates are submitted in a jiffy followed by another coronavirus Test.
Thereafter, three separate buses take the entire contingent to the designated hotel, Walford Astoria, which is serving as the quarantine facility for the team.
Locked in, away from their own teammates, the seven-days are going to be difficult but with the captain and senior South African players also having joined them in the hotel, it’s the best time to plan for the season.
For now, it seems the best course available - to contemplate and enjoy the 'nothingness' sitting in rooms and the balconies overlooking the iconic Burj Al Arab and Palm Jumeirah. The guidelines in place are so strict that nobody is allowed to step out even for a meal at the designated restaurant in the hotel. The food menu available in the rooms are curated by strength and conditioning coach Shanker Basu. Basu is also regularly sharing the workout routines to be followed for the next seven-days, with physio Evan Speechly closely monitoring the players’ activity.
The management has ensured that all boxes are ticked (as a matter of fact the food cutleries have made way for plastic boxes). For the next seven-days, the life of a challenger might be repetitive but this is when, the team would like to believe, the seeds of success will be sown!
The quarantine has begun but the game is about to begin!