The Mumbai Indians will begin their IPL title defence against the team they took the trophy away from last season – the Chennai Super Kings – on September 19 in Abu Dhabi, at 6pm local time (7.30pm IST). The IPL schedule was finally made public on Sunday, just under two weeks off from the start of the competition, and features ten double-header days.The schedule has been released only for the round-robin stage of the tournament. In all, Abu Dhabi will host 20 round-robin games, Dubai 24 and Sharjah 12.Mumbai and the Kolkata Knight Riders will play a majority of their games (eight each) in Abu Dhabi. The Sunrisers Hyderabad will play eight of their games in Dubai, while the Super Kings, the Kings XI Punjab, the Delhi Capitals and the Royal Challengers Bangalore will play seven each in Dubai. Only the Rajasthan Royals’ matches are more spread out – they play six in in Dubai, five in Abu Dhabi, and three in Sharjah.The England-Australia player questionThe Royals and the Knight Riders will be the last teams to play their first matches and that could be due to the late arrival of a handful of their key players from the limited-overs series between England and Australia in England, which ends on September 16.While Steven Smith, Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer and Tom Curran are part of the Royals’ squad, Eoin Morgan, Pat Cummins and Tom Banton are part of the Knight Riders’. Although IPL rules make it mandatory for every participant to undergo a six-day quarantine upon arrival in the UAE, and Abu Dhabi’s requirements extend that to 14 days, it has been said that those coming from the England-Australia series could be allowed exemptions given they would be travelling straight from one biosecure bubble into another, but this remains to be confirmed.Double-headers only in OctoberThe double-headers begin on October 3. October is typically when temperatures – which, as expected, are consistently breaching 40-degree Celsius during the day-time at present – begin to come down in the region. There had been talk earlier of teams not being happy to play games beginning at 2pm in these temperatures, and that could be a reason why the double-headers begin only later in the tournament.Mumbai start and finish, CSK have least prep timeMumbai and the Super Kings are the IPL’s most successful franchises – with four and three titles respectively – and form its most prominent rivalry; no team has beaten the Super Kings as many times as Mumbai, who have a 17-11 record against them including a last-ball one-run win in last season’s final. Mumbai also bring the round-robin stage of the league to a close, pitted against the Sunrisers on November 3 in Sharjah.After the BCCI was forced to move the tournament out of India owing to massive upsurge in the Covid-19 cases in the country, all eight franchises landed in the UAE nearly a month before the tournament. In terms of preparation in the UAE, the Super Kings have been the last off the blocks because of several members of their contingent – including two players – testing positive. The team commenced training only on September 4, roughly one week after the other franchises.The Covid-19 effect: Disclaimer over schedule, doubts over spectatorsThe IPL put in a disclaimer on the schedule, saying it is “subject to change for any reason” deemed fit by by the BCCI. The clause suggests the IPL is wary of a situation wherein a team(s) is/are affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.The schedule was expected much earlier, but delays happened as the IPL Governing Council considered a number of different parameters forced by the pandemic. The Super Kings’ issues aside, the strict quarantine rules in Abu Dhabi are believed to have contributed to the hold up.There has been no confirmation yet from the IPL on whether spectators will be allowed to attend the games – and there was no mention of it in the statement announcing the schedule either. BCCI president Sourav Ganguly had said it will happen later in the tournament, but there remains doubt over this especially given the upsurge in Covid-19 cases in the UAE over the last fortnight.
Sophomore setter Jenna Adams returns a ball for the Trojans in a game against Utah at the Galen Center. Photo by Tucker Judkins | Daily TrojanThe No. 14 women’s volleyball team hits the road for two of its final three regular-season road matchups at No. 4 Stanford and Cal on Wednesday and Friday. USC (20-7, 12-4 Pac-12) is coming off a five-match win streak, tying its longest of the season. The first time the Trojans met the Golden Bears (13-14, 4-12 Pac-12), USC won in four sets. Two days later, when they played the Cardinal (22-3, 15-1 Pac-12), Stanford won in four sets. For Stanford, a win against the Trojans would mean that Stanford would clinch its first Pac-12 title since 2014. Sitting at 12-4, USC has a one match hold over Washington for second place. If the Trojans beat the Cardinal, USC could have a chance to tie for the title if it wins out its season. To give the Cardinal their second conference loss of the season, USC will need to rely upon sophomore outside hitter Khalia Lanier. This past week, Lanier was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week and the AVCA National Player of the Week. It’s Lanier’s third conference award and her first AVCA National award, and USC’s 10th in program history. Lanier picked up 38 kills while hitting .319 and averaging 4.22 kills per set in the team’s four-set win over then-ranked No. 15 Utah and five-set win over then-ranked No. 25 Colorado. Other than Lanier, USC continues to depend on senior opposite Brittany Abercrombie. The senior put up 27 kills this past weekend. Freshman outside hitter Brooke Botkin put up 24 kills while hitting .256. Senior opposite Niki Withers put up 21 kills while hitting .304. The team’s balanced attack helped to push the Trojans over the Utes and Buffaloes this past weekend. To try and top the Cardinal, they’ll need a continued presence from the four pin-hitters. For the Cardinal, USC will need to limit sophomore outside hitter Kathryn Plummer. Against the Washington schools, Plummer put up 48 kills while hitting .329. She is the Cardinal’s go-to offensive weapon. While it could be tough to limit Plummer, USC could focus on making an impact at the net against the rest of Stanford’s hitters, similar to what the Huskies did in their four-set win over the Cardinal — their first of the season — just a week ago. To top the Golden Bears, the Trojans will need to shut down senior outside hitter Antzela Dempi. The senior hit 29 kills against the Washington schools. She also put up four service aces. The last time the two teams faced each other, Dempi put up 12 kills. With four regular-season matches to go, the Women of Troy should be able to hit their stride as they prep for the NCAA Tournament. After the matches against Stanford and Cal, USC heads out to Oregon to face the Ducks before hosting UCLA for its final regular match of the season. At Maples Pavilion on Wednesday, the Cardinal and the Troajns will celebrate Equality Night, where they will celebrate inclusion and diversity in sports. First serve will be at 7 p.m. On Friday, the Women of Troy play the Golden Bears at 6 p.m.