'Indian Paunch League': Stars pilloried for 'healthy waistlines' in IPL opener

0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
The Mumbai Indians celebrate after beating the Chennai Super Kings in the 2019 IPL final in Hyderabad.
The Mumbai Indians celebrate after beating the Chennai Super Kings in the 2019 IPL final in Hyderabad.
Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Leading cricketers from Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings have been slammed for their "healthy waistlines" during the opening match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in Abu Dhabi.

Some players were returning to professional cricket for the first time in six months after global sport was put on hold amid the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The virus-delayed Twenty20 tournament was postponed and then moved to the United Arab Emirates, with India's cricket-crazy fans watching Chennai outplay Mumbai on Saturday on their televisions and mobile phones.

Many expressed surprise at seeing top players including Mumbai skipper Rohit Sharma, batsman Saurabh Tiwary and Chennai spinner Piyush Chawla sporting a post-lockdown paunch.

"I have never played more than gully cricket but I am pretty shocked to see some players in the #IPL2020 looking so unfit," former India field hockey captain Viren Rasquinha wrote on Twitter.

"I can't think of another physical sport where players at the highest level could cope with these fitness levels."

Veteran commentator Harsha Bhogle tweeted that there were a "couple of healthy waistlines today".

Social media users joked that the cash-rich IPL was now the "India Paunch League".

"Indian Paunch League (IPL) looking at all the bulging waistlines..looks like a veterans series match..," one user tweeted.

Meanwhile Chennai skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni stood out with his bulging biceps on his return to the cricket field after more than a year on the sidelines.

The veteran wicketkeeper-batsman, who retired from international cricket last month, last played for India in their semi-final loss to New Zealand in the 2019 World Cup.

Fans swooned at their idol's body, with one user tweeting: "Dhoni looks WWE ready".

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
What is your favourite sport to watch on TV?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Rugby
42% - 8981 votes
Cricket
11% - 2328 votes
Football
19% - 4100 votes
Athletics
2% - 529 votes
Boxing
1% - 191 votes
Cycling
2% - 499 votes
Golf
5% - 1046 votes
Motorsport
9% - 1820 votes
Tennis
3% - 727 votes
Water sports
1% - 198 votes
American sports
1% - 268 votes
MMA / WWE / UFC
3% - 680 votes
Vote