South African domestic delays for CSK
With South Africa's domestic Twenty20 competition in its closing stages, Chennai Super Kings could be without their two South African allrounders, Albie Morkel and the newly-signed Chris Morris, in the opening rounds of IPL 2013. Morris' domestic franchise, Lions, are set to play in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge final on April 7, which means Morris will miss Super Kings' opening game (v Mumbai Indian on April 6) and is doubtful for the second (v Kings XI Punjab on April 10). Morkel's availability for the start of the IPL depends on whether his domestic team, Titans, win their semi-final on April 3. "The earliest he [Morris] can fly out is the 8th and reach here on the 9th, so he will not be part of the side for the first game," Super Kings' manager Russell Radhakrishnan told Times of India. "Albie's side, if they don't make the final, he will be with us on the 5th."
No IPL in drought-hit Maharashtra, say politicians
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), India's main opposition party and a member of the opposition coalition in Maharashtra, has said using water to prepare pitches in the state for the IPL, when several regions in the state are drought-ridden, is not "justified". Maharashtra is home to two IPL franchises: Mumbai Indians and Pune Warriors. The party has reportedly appealed to the IPL's governing council to shift these franchises' matches out of the state. "What sense does it make to use many thousand litres of water to maintain the pitch on which cricket matches are played," BJP's leader of opposition in the state legislative council, Vinod Tawade, said. "There are talks of donating a part of revenue generated out of IPL matches to drought-hit Maharashtra. But when it comes to choosing between revenue and water, water is more important." The state's other opposition parties, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and the Shiv Sena have also objected to hosting IPL matches there.
KKR know how to tackle IPL now - Bhatia
Defending a title may be tougher than winning it in the first place, according to Kolkata Knight Riders allrounder Rajat Bhatia, yet his team, the defending champions, are quite confident going into IPL 2013. "To become champions it's difficult, to stay on top it is more difficult," Bhatia told PTI after a training session at Eden Gardens. "You have to be self-motivated. [But] having won it has improved our concentration. We know how to tackle it now." Knight Riders' captain, Gautam Gambhir, who had a mild dose of jaundice in the lead-up to the tournament, was back in training Bhatia confirmed: "Gautam is in good nick and is working hard to get his fitness back."
Shah Rukh Khan's Wankhede ban to stand
Knight Riders' owner Shah Rukh Khan will have to skip his team's match against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede on May 7, after the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) confirmed that the five-year ban they had imposed on him in 2012 will stay. MCA president Ravi Savant told the Indian Express: "The MCA stand remains the same. The managing committee had taken a decision of imposing a five-year ban on him, and it will continue this season too." The ban was a result of Khan's scuffle with security guards at the stadium after last year's Mumbai Indians-Knight Riders game. He was accused of trying to walk on to the field of play after the game, while being drunk and abusive of officials. Khan, however, denied the allegations and said he was reacting to the "obnoxious" and "unpardonable" behaviour of the stadium's officials.
Nikita Bastian is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo