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Stokes gearing up for IPL despite coronavirus lockdown

Ben Stokes is one of the 13 England players due to feature in the lucrative franchise-based Twenty20 competition, which has been postponed to April 15 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

England's Ben Stokes in action against New Zealand on day one of the first Test at Mount Maunganui. Picture: @englandcricket/Twitter

BENGALURU - England all-rounder Ben Stokes says he is working hard to stay in shape for next month’s Indian Premier League, even though he knows the tournament is unlikely to go ahead.

Stokes is one of the 13 England players due to feature in the lucrative franchise-based Twenty20 competition, which has been postponed to April 15 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday, India entered a three-week lockdown period to minimise the spread of the virus, but IPL organisers have yet to call off the competition or delay it further.

“At the moment my next competitive cricket is going to be in the IPL,” Stokes told BBC Radio 5 Live. “That hasn’t changed yet so I have to think I will be playing on April 20.

“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. 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 because it doesn’t work like that.”

Stokes, who would play for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, is spending a prolonged period at home after England’s tour of Sri Lanka was postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The 28-year-old said England’s players were shocked when the two-match test series was called off but that it was the right thing to do in the circumstances.

“When you put everything together in terms of where the world was with the coronavirus ... it was the wrong place to be at that time and everyone’s health is more important than anything else in the world,” he added.

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