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IPL social – Dhoni’s still got it & Bayliss’ Sunrisers have lots of fun

Chennai Super Kings captain MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni has played 190 matches since the IPL launched in 2008, averaging 42.20 at a strike rate of 137.85

There were doubts it would even take place this year, but we now have just a few days to wait until reigning Indian Premier League champions Mumbai Indians kick off the 2020 edition of the tournament against Chennai Super Kings in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

The eight franchise teams have been putting the final touches to their preparations and welcoming some late arrivals, which include established IPL stars as well as new faces.

BBC Sport’s IPL social takes a behind-the-scenes look at everything that has been going on in the build-up to the start of the world’s richest cricket competition.

The Knight Riders arrive & Neesham speaks Punjabi

The IPL is the perfect platform to unearth, develop and showcase young Indian cricketers. But it wouldn’t be what it is without some world-class, international superstars.

Fresh off the back of their win in the Caribbean Premier League with the Trinbago Knight Riders, the magic of Sunil Narine and the muscles of Andre Russell touched down in the United Arab Emirates as the West Indies duo link up with the Kolkata Knight Riders…

They will be joined by fast bowler Ali Khan, who was also a part of the Trinbago Knight Riders’ title-winning side and becomes the first ever American IPL player…

Sunrisers Hyderabad fans will be pleased to see the return of a 21-year-old Afghanistan spin king who is the number one ranked Twenty20 bowler in the world…

Meanwhile New Zealand’s Trent Boult let his bowling do the talking during a net session for Mumbai Indians…

But we’re not sure you can get a better introduction than this; Kings XI Punjab welcomed New Zealand’s Jimmy Neesham with a classic Bollywood song and the all-rounder replied with “I’ve arrived” in Punjabi…

The ‘old guns’ Dhoni & Watson

Chennai Super Kings (CSK) may be without the services of batsman Suresh Raina and veteran spinner Harbhajan Singh, who are both missing from this year’s IPL due to personal reasons, but they are certainly not short of experience.

Captain MS Dhoni, who retired from international cricket this year, and former Australia all-rounder Shane Watson, were born within a month of each other.

At the age of 39, they’re both showing there is still plenty of life left in the old dog…

Meanwhile CSK’s young Indian duo Sai Kishore and Narayan Jagadeesan nearly learned a valuable lesson this past week; don’t play cricket in the hallway of a luxury hotel…

While Ravindra Jadeja and Faf du Plessis engaged in a good, old fashioned arm wrestle…

With that bulging bicep and steely look of concentration, surely Faf will come out on top in that battle, right?

Kohli sharpens his tools

Virat Kohli is a box office batsman, one of the greatest cricketers in the world and a player who transcends the sport.

It’s not achieved without hard work, though. Here, the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) captain shows us there is no margin for error in his meticulous preparations…

Did anyone else watch that video and pray the saw didn’t slip?

With Kohli, former South African batsman AB de Villiers and Australian limited-overs captain Aaron Finch, RCB have a spectacular batting line-up.

But it was their seamers who put on a show in this training drill. Death bowling at its best…

Legendary coaches & a Jonty Rhodes stunner

Players in the IPL will be able to draw on the knowledge and wisdom of some all-time greats, with each franchise packed with legendary coaches.

Former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting heads up the Delhi Capitals set-up…

Sri Lanka’s Mahela Jayawardene will be looking to make it two consecutive IPL trophy wins for Mumbai Indians..

And Kings XI Punjab fielding coach Jonty Rhodes, who is arguably the finest fielder the game has ever seen, shows he’s still got it aged 51 with this stunning grab…

Fun and games for Bayliss and the Sunrisers

While everyone else is doing training drills, Sunrisers Hyderabad appear to be enjoying the relaxed vibe under their notoriously laid back but successful head coach Trevor Bayliss.

England’s World Cup-winning coach, who led Kolkata Knight Riders to the 2012 title, was in no mood to mess about in a ‘friendly’ game of table tennis, though, smashing a beaut of a backhand in a pretty impressive team room..

There was some light-heated confrontation between the players – and a superb overhead point-winning kick – in this game of foot volley…

But the team put their differences aside and came together to take on Bayliss and the support stuff in this fielding challenge…

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