New Delhi/Ahmedabad, (Asian independent) 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.