Covid-19 hits Indian Premier League

AHMEDABAD, India – Two players from Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and another three officials from Chennai Super Kings (CSK) tested positive for COVID-19, forcing the postponement of Monday’s clash between KKR and Royal Challengers Bangalore, and throwing the Indian Premier League into turmoil.

KKR said 29-year-old leg-spinner Varun Chakaravarthy and 30-year-old seamer Sandeep Warrier had tested positive Sunday and had immediately isolated themselves from the remainder of the squad, which includes West Indies stars Andre Russell and Sunil Narine.

Meanwhile, CSK – who have veteran West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo on their roster, announced that chief executive, Kasi Viswanathan, along with bowling coach Lakshmipathy Balaji and a member of the maintenance staff, had also tested positive for the virus.

Only last weekend, CSK clashed with Kieron Pollard’s Mumbai Indians in a thriller at Delhi’s Arun Jaitley Stadium.

Monday’s fixture with RCB, scheduled for the Narendra Modi Stadium, was quickly scrapped by organisers as medical officials launched the process of contact tracing to identify any other positive cases.

“The Kolkata Knight Riders have now moved towards a daily testing routine to identify any other possible cases and treat them at the earliest,” the IPL said in a statement.

“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.

“The BCCI and the Kolkata Knight Riders prioritise the health and safety of everyone involved and all measures are being taken in that endeavour.”

The fallout from the positive tests has already been felt around the league with Shimron Hetmyer’s Delhi Capitals, the last team to face KKR last Thursday, asked to isolate in their hotel here.

Further, media reports said neither Jason Holder’s Sunrisers Hyderabad nor Mumbai, due to clash Tuesday, had trained at the Arun Jaitley Stadium due to “suspected” positive cases among the ground staff.

Monday’s developments represent the first wave of positive cases in the IPL since the tournament got underway April 9, even as India continues to battle a deadly surge which in recent weeks has accounted for record infections and deaths.

Overall, India has reported 20.2 million infections – nearly 3.5 million of which remain active – and over 222 000 deaths.

And IPL organisers have come under heavy criticism from several quarters in recent weeks over their decision to persist with the tournament, despite mounting cases across the country.

KKR’s chief executive, Venky Mysore, said players and staff from the franchise had been instructed to isolate as a precaution, while further tracing and testing were carried out.

“We have asked everybody in the bubble 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,” said Mysore, also the team operations director of Trinbago Knight Riders in the Caribbean Premier League.

“The whole idea right now is that it will take perhaps five days, and we are a little fortunate that we have a bit of a break right now because our next game is on the eighth of May.

“So five days of quarantining starting [Sunday] would take us through the 6th of May, and we had already gotten into a protocol of daily testing.”

Chris Gayle, Fabian Allen and Nicholas Pooran, who are on the Punjab Kings roster, are the other West Indies players campaigning in the IPL. (CMC)

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