A big question mark on continuation of the Indian Premier League (IPL) was raised on Monday after two Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) players tested positive for Covid-19, forcing the KKR-Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) match to be postponed, even as similar news emerged from the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) camp.
A couple of CSK franchise members and three members of the ground staff at the Arun Jaitley Stadium, venue of IPL matches on May 4 and 5, have tested positive. However, the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) officials insisted that at least Tuesday match between SunRisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians was on. Delhi is also scheduled to host a Rajasthan Royals-CSK match on Wednesday.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Monday confirmed the positive results of KKR’s Varun Chakaravarthy and Sandeep Warrier, and that the match was being rescheduled. It, however, did not specify when and where the rescheduled game would be played.
“Unless there is something major, a player or a team member tests positive, the match will take place. We have no information about its postponement or cancellation,” said an official of one of the teams playing on Tuesday in Delhi.
Incidentally, the 60-match IPL reached its halfway mark on Monday, with the 30th match scheduled, between KKR and RCB, being postponed.
Delhi and Ahmedabad, among the IPL venues, are in tight grip of the raging pandemic, with hundreds of people dying of the virus and thousands struggling in and outside hospitals for oxygen and medical aid. But the BCCI has so far insisted that the IPL would go on.
The KKR players were locked up in their rooms in Ahmedabad and didn’t go for practice on Monday, following the reports of positive tests from their camp. If their tests till Thursday (May 6) return negative results, they will be allowed to train on May 6 and 7. They will then be available for the May 8 match, provided that game takes place at all.
The BCCI said that the medical team is also “determining the close and casual contacts of the two positive cases during the 48 hours prior to collection of the sample that returned the positive test results”.
At Delhi’s Arun Jaitley Stadium, everybody seemed on tenterhooks on Monday, the day the Delhi government sought Indian Army help to meet the Covid situation that is virtually got out of its hands.
DDCA officials said Tuesday’s match was on, so far they were concerned.
“Three members of the ground staff in Delhi have tested positive. Also a couple of members of CSK, which is to play its matches at the Arun Jaitley Stadium, are said to have tested positive,” a source told IANS.
While there was official confirmation on KKR players testing positive and postponement of Monday night’s match, there was none on the Delhi cases.
The DDCA has witnessed a few cases in recent times. Two of its staff members died due to Covid recently. A couple of its officials/members have also been admitted to hospital undergoing treatment for Covid-19.
“The situation is grave, no doubt,” said DDCA official.
The limit on the number of guests has been reduced. A franchise is allowed to bring in only 20 guests in this phase of the IPL, said another official. “When the matches were being played in Chennai, the franchises were allowed to bring many more guests than 20,” he said.
A DDCA official, however, denied that there have been any fresh positive cases among ground staff.
“The tests were conducted after 2 pm on Monday. The report is yet to come. There are no reports of any positive cases among the ground staff to our knowledge. However, we have heard that the CSK CEO Kashi Viswanathan and bowling coach L. Balaji have tested positive,” he said.
Earlier on Monday, the BCCI admitted that the KKR camp has reported positive tests.
“Varun Chakaravarthy and Sandeep Warrier were found to be positive in the third round of testing in the last four days. All other team members have tested negative for COVID-19,” it said.
Both players have isolated themselves from the rest of the squad. The venue — the Narendra Modi Stadium — is set to host two more group stage matches on Thursday and Saturday before hosting the playoffs and final from May 25 to 30 respectively.
“The medical team is in continuous touch with the duo and are monitoring their health. Meanwhile, the Kolkata Knight Riders have now moved towards a daily testing routine to identify any other possible cases and treat them at the earliest,” said the BCCI.
KKR chief executive officer Venky Mysore said: “I think everyone has been very proactive. We found out approximately 24 hours ago about Varun testing positive, so the immediate steps we took was to isolate him, and then later on in the night when we got test results which also involved Sandeep, we put them on a different floor with a different air-conditioning ducts system to make sure others are appropriately protected.”
Mysore said that everybody in the bubble (players, support staff, management, hotel staff and service staff) has been asked to quarantine. “So, they are isolated in their rooms. The food delivery is on a knock and drop basis, which everyone has gotten used to by now.”
This is the first instance of players testing positive within the IPL bio-bubble this season.
The CSK, though, haven’t confirmed the positive tests until now.
If it turns out to be true then it will be the second time the CSK will have to deal with the outbreak in their team bio-bubble.
At IPL 2020, in the UAE, Viswanathan’s wife were among the several members — including players Deepak Chahar and Ruturaj Gaikwad — who tested positive ahead of the tournament.
Before the 2021 IPL, some members of the ground staff at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, which hosted some of the matches of the first phase, had also tested positive.
Rishabh Pant gets first jab of Covid-19 vaccine
Wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant said that he has got his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine on Thursday. Pant urged people to get the vaccine whenever they are eligible.
“Got my first jab today. When you are eligible, please step up and get the vaccine. The sooner we do it, the sooner we can beat this Virus,” Pant tweeted with a photo of him getting the vaccine.
Earlier Indian captain Virat Kohli and fast bowlers Deepak Chahar and Siddharth Kaul also said that they had got their first jabs.
Pant was captain of Delhi Capitals for the 2021 season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) following an impressive season with the Indian team in which he played integral roles in their Test series wins away from home against Australia and at home against England.
He was announced as DC’s captain prior to the season after regular skipper Shreyas Iyer was ruled out due to injury.
Sometimes miss Dhoni’s guidance: Kuldeep Yadav
Spinner Kuldeep Yadav has admitted that he misses the guidance he used to get from MS Dhoni when the latter kept wickets. Kuldeep has seen his international appearances nosedive since the end of 2019, which was also the year that Dhoni played his last match for India.
“Sometimes I miss that guidance because he (Mahi) has great experience. He used to guide us behind the wicket, kept screaming. We miss his experience. Rishabh is there now, the more he plays, the more input he will give in the future. I always felt every bowler needs a partner who can respond from the other end,” Yadav told The Indian Express.
Yadav has played seven ODIs in 2020 and 2021, as compared to 23 in 2019 alone. Dhoni played his last game for India in their semi-final defeat to New Zealand in the 2019 World Cup on July 10 before eventually retiring from international cricket on August 15, 2020.
“When Mahibhai was there, I and (Yuzvendra) Chahal were playing. Ever since Mahi bhai left, Chahal and I haven’t played together. I played only a handful of games after Mahibhai left. I must have played ten-odd games. I had even taken a hat-trick. If you look at the performance as a whole, it will look pretty decent but if one breaks it up then my performance sometimes can look not up to the mark. One has to also look at the opposition we are playing against,” said Yadav.
India should play both Jadeja and Ashwin in WTC final: Pragyan Ojha
Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin should both be playing in the World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand for their prowess with the bat as much as their ability to take wickets, said Pragyan Ojha.
Ojha said that with India having no fast-bowling all-rounder in the squad, Jadeja in particular gives them an extra option in the batting order.
“They should play, both of them. Because both can bat, both have the experience of bowling on any track. The biggest plus point is Jadeja can bat up the order. The way he is performing. Mind you if you look at his domestic record, he’s got three triple hundreds.
I think he can bat long and Ashwin has got international hundreds also. I feel if there’s a little chance where you can play both the spinners, you should play. They have enough experience to win you games on any wicket,” Ojha told Sports Today.
“Overall, it’s a fantastic team. Even I was following Hanuma Vihari. Very thoughtful of him to go and play some county cricket. You know you get acclimatised to the conditions. That’s very important,” he added.
Jadeja will be making his comeback to the Test team after being sidelined in the second Test against Australia due to a finger injury. The injury forced him to miss the four-Test series at home against England but he hit the ground running for Chennai Super Kings in the 2021 Indian Premier League.
Ashwin, on the other hand, has experienced a resurgence with the bat in recent matches, helping India to a draw in the third Test against Australia by fending off 128 balls and finishing unbeaten on 39. He then scored 106 against England in the second Test in Chennai in February.
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