The Indian Premier League (IPL) fixture between Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore, scheduled to be played at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Monday, has been postponed after two players tested positive for COVID-19.
In an official statement, the Board of Control for Cricket in India confirmed that KKR spinner Varun Chakravarthy and fast bowler 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.
Both the players have isolated themselves from the rest of the squad. The medical team is in continuous touch with the duo and is monitoring their health. Meanwhile, KKR has now moved towards a daily testing routine to identify any other possible cases and treat them at the earliest.
The medical team is also determining the close and casual contacts of the two positive cases during the 48 hours before collection of the sample that returned the positive test results.
Talking about the situation, KKR CEO Venky Mysore told kkr.in, “Difficult times, but I’m happy to report that both Varun and Sandeep are doing well.”
“We have taken all the precautions that are necessary and have been advised by the medical teams of IPL and KKR and also getting appropriate advice from outside on what the right thing to do is. Sandeep, in particular, is doing fine. No temperature, no other symptoms, and he is feeling good. Varun is still a little under the weather, but better than yesterday and both of them are in good spirits.”
The team, including KKR owner Shah Rukh Khan, caught up on a video call to take stock of how everyone was feeling within the camp.
DC in isolation
While the BCCI chief Sourav Ganguly and Governing Council chairman Brijesh Patel were unavailable for comments, it is believed that a decision on the new date for the KKR-RCB match will be taken on Monday night after a virtual meeting.
With KKR in quarantine, Gujarat Cricket Association officials confirmed that Punjab Kings and RCB will train at Gujarat College Ground between 4 pm to 6 pm. Delhi Capitals was scheduled to train under lights at the Narendra Modi Stadium, however, it is learnt that the team is in isolation. The BCCI has asked the Delhi Capitals to go into isolation after two KKR players tested positive. The two sides locked horns on April 29.
“For now, there has not been any decision on putting the tournament on hold. We have increased testing and all the players and the stakeholders are being monitored closely,” a Board insider said, adding that contract tracing is being done and the teams have also been asked to follow the protocols strictly. Franchise officials also confirmed that they have not heard anything from the Board yet with regards to the postponement.
Sources in the Board have also indicated that there was no possible bubble breach by the KKR players and Chakravarthy – who complained of abdominal pain a few days ago – was taken to a hospital for scans and was accompanied by the KKR team doctor.
The BCCI’s interim CEO Hemang Amin wrote to the franchises with an attachment of the press release on the KKR players testing positive. “In the light of recent developments that have happened over the last 24 hours, please find below a media release that is being issued. We will keep monitoring the situation and provide further details and updates,” Amin wrote.
However, there were more developments later in the day with Chennai Super Kings support staff L. Balaji and a logistical staff testing positive. The franchise CEO Kasi Viswanath’s returned a positive test, but the next antigen and RT-PCR tests were negative. He is expected to undergo a third RT-PCR test to be doubly sure.
Tournament to go ahead
While the tournament is expected to continue for now, there could be some changes in the schedule.
With Balaji – who was in the dugout until CSK’s last outing against Mumbai Indians – testing positive, the players of the Chennai and Mumbai team might have to isolate, as per IPL guidelines, which states that “close contact” of an affected person has to be isolated for six days and return three negative tests on Days 1, 3 and 6. While CSK’s training sessions were called off on Monday, the BCCI might be forced to reschedule the next few matches involving CSK and Mumbai Indians in a bid to ensure contact tracing. A final decision is expected soon.
As per the original schedule, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians play at the Arun Jaitley Stadium on Tuesday.
Reports also surfaced that a few groundsmen at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in New Delhi have tested positive for the virus. However, the Delhi and Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) officials confirmed to this publication that ‘none of the groundsmen on duty’ is among them.
Will the Kolkata leg go ahead?
The Eden Gardens in Kolkata is scheduled to host the next leg, starting from May 9 and the Cricket Association of Bengal secretary Snehasish Ganguly stated that preparations are already underway. While most of the permissions have been obtained, the remaining few will be ready in a day or two. However, a lot would depend on how things pan out over the next few days. It has been learnt that some of the teams are apprehensive about travelling to new venues, and the BCCI has told the franchises that it will work on the details and get back to them.
On Friday, the West Bengal government imposed a partial lockdown.