NEW DELHI, Sept. 16 -- In his long career with Delhi, India and in the Indian Premier League (IPL), two things have been constant for Shikhar Dhawan-aggression as a batsman and a calmness that borders on the monkish away from the playing field.

No wonder then that when we suggest the IPL bio-bubble, where players will spend more than two months cut off from the rest of the world is akin to a retreat, Dhawan smiles and agrees. "Nice to test our mental strength," he says, speaking via a Zoom call from his hotel room in the UAE. Then, ominously, he adds: "It's almost like Big Boss."

The IPL, which begins September 19 in the UAE, will see players holed up for roughly 80 days, their worlds circumscribed by their hotel, training ground, and mat...