New Delhi:The Indian Premier League is fast becoming the Injured Players' League given the alarming rate at which participating cricketers are hurting themselves and their prospect of featuring in the Twenty20 World Championship this May.
Delhi Daredevils have lost captain Gautam Gambhir to a hamstring injury, Rajasthan Royals' South African import Graeme Smith has flown back with a "double fracture" in his right-hand finger and India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni can't play for Chennai Super Kings for at least the next 10 days due to an elbow problem.
English all-rounder Dimitri Mascarenhas, another Rajasthan Royals player, hurt his ankle and he too would miss the event from now on and how many more end up with niggles and injuries will be known only after the league draws to a close next month.
Players getting injured during a tournament is nothing new or unheard of but would be adding to the anxiety of their respective boards is the fact that the breakdowns are happening just a couple of months before the Twenty20 World Championship in the West Indies.
At a time when cricketers don't really have an off season to look forward to, sustaining peak fitness is a huge challenge and only a few like Australian captain Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke have been able to turn their back on the lure of IPL's fast cash and keep themselves fresh for international commitments.
The temptation of millions for just six weeks of cricket is too big to ignore for most of the players but they end up risking their fitness in a hectic tournament.
A case in point is Australian pacer Brett Lee, who came to play for Kings XI Punjab despite a recently-repaired elbow but had to ultimately fly back home for further treatment after failing to recover in time.
Last year's Twenty20 World Championships missed the likes of Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen after they got injured during the IPL and the frequency at which players are heading to hospitals in this edition again raises a question about how many of the top names would be fit for the showpiece event this year.
It's a debate that has forever raged in international football where players have been accused of risking their all for cash-rich clubs and not being at their best for national duty.
Going by the look of things, cricket too seems set for such a debate.