Johannesburg: Kolkata Knight Riders are nearing the end of a week-long training session in the city of Bloemfontein, the capital of Free State province, where somewhat ironically anyone of Indian origin was outlawed from entering by statute during the apartheid era.
"The only request that stumped me was the players' yearning for a good curry, which is very hard to find in Bloemfontein," said Sundru Reddy, a South African cricket fanatic who has been handling the logistics for the team during their stay.
Despite having been in South Africa for 156 years already, Indians only started settling in Free State province, the only one debarred to them by the apartheid government, after the laws were lifted following the release of Nelson Mandela in the early 1990s, so the Indian restaurants found in other South African towns are almost non-existent in Bloemfontein.
KKR team analyst A R Srikanth confirmed to the weekly Post that this was the third year that the team had come to South Africa for a training camp, this time to escape the hype around the T20 World Cup currently underway in India.
"Our conditioning coach, Adrian le Roux, is based in Bloemfontein and we have come to train with him," Srikanth said. "It's nice to get away from all the hype and attention, and the boys benefit greatly from this experience. Most of our training sessions involve strength and physical conditioning, but we do get in some net practice so often," he added.
Srikanth said it was also a good bonding exercise for the team, although it is without the players currently engaged in the World Cup. He said the team management was happy with the squad they have put together for this year's IPL which starts on April 9.
South African players in the team include Morne Morkel and Johan Botha.