Star England cricket team all-rounder Ben Stokes continues to train for the 13th edition of Indian Premier League (IPL 2020) even though he is aware that the cash-rich tournament may become yet another sporting event to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 or coronavirus pandemic.
IPL 2020 was originally scheduled to start on March 29 at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai but it was postponed to April 15 to contain the spread of the coronavirus, which has claimed more than 19,000 lives across the globe.
"At the moment my next competitive cricket is going to be in the IPL," Stokes, who was bought by Rajasthan Royals in the 2018 IPL auction for Rs 12.5 crore, told the BBC.
"That hasn't changed yet so I have to think I will be playing on April 20."
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had said last week that the county season would not start until at least the end of May, while England's tour of Sri Lanka was also postponed due to the dreaded disease.
The number of positive cases in India has surpassed the 600-mark, while 11 deaths have been reported so far, prompting the government to put the country under lockdown till April 14 to halt the spread of the virus.
Given the current circumstances, a cancellation of this year's IPL looks inevitable.
However, Stokes said he needs to keep working on his fitness to be ready if and when the IPL happens.
"I have to get my head round that I am playing even though in the back of my mind I know I am probably not," he said.
"I have to build up and get myself physically in a position that if it does happen I am good to go. I cannot take three weeks off and expect the body to be ready for April 20 because it doesn't work like that. It might happen and if it does I don't want to be behind.
"There will be a lot of advice given to us and if it was an option to go we will have to take the sensible one.
However, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has believed that it can still pull off the IPL 2020 if things come under control by April end and the first game is played by the first week of May.
Earlier, speaking to news agency IANS, a BCCI official said that while it is presently very difficult to predict the fate of the IPL 2020, the board can still conduct the league taking a cue from the pattern that was followed when the tournament was taken out to South Africa. But for that, the first match must be played by the first week of May.
"The latest we can wait is till the end of April. If the first game isn't played by the first week of May then it will be almost impossible to have the league this year. Even if we have to wait till end of April to follow all the procedures, we can take a cue from the South Africa edition and conduct the league successfully. If you remember, that was the shortest IPL with 59 games played over 37 days and we can do the same. But certain measures will have to be taken," the official said.
The Sports Ministry has made it clear that the fate of the 13th edition of the IPL can be decided only after the government comes out with a fresh advisory after April 15, keeping in mind the situation with regards to the coronavirus outbreak.
Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju has said that while it is the BCCI which decides on cricketing matters, the pandemic is something which has a direct effect on the loves of the citizens of the country.