MUMBAI: Covid-19 continues to haunt cricket. Just a few days after the India-Sri Lanka limited overs series was postponed by a few days due to a couple of Covid cases in the Lankan camp, it emerged on Thursday that the Indian team, coming out of a three-week break in England ahead of a five-match Test series against the hosts, has been hit by a mini Covid outbreak.
Star wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant and throw-down specialist Dayanand Garani had tested positive for the deadly virus, while three other members of the camp have been placed in precautionary isolation.
Bowling coach Bharat Arun, wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha and standby opener Abhimanyu Easwaran have been put in isolation after being identified as ‘close contacts’ of Garani. While Pant tested positive a week back, Garani’s test report arrived on Thursday morning. Arun, Easwaran and Saha have all tested negative, but the UK Government’s Health Safety Protocol demands a 10-day isolation period for close contacts of Covid patients. “The four personnel will undergo 10-day isolation and will remain in their respective rooms in the team hotel in London,” BCCI secretary Jay Shah said in a detailed statement.
The England tour will be a long one. But it is imperative that professional cricketers and the team’s support staff follow the rules of the bio-bubble. That at least two of them have tested positive shows that rules were not strictly adhered to. This must stop, otherwise the tour could be in danger.
All five have thus been left behind to quarantine in London, as the Indian team moved to Durham – where it will camp for the next two weeks – on Thursday evening. With the first Test in Nottingham scheduled to start on August 4, there is no imminent danger to the Test series.
“Pant had gone to a dentist on July 5 and 6, and could have picked the virus from the clinic. On July 7, he had been vaccinated,” a source told TOI. Shah further said, “Pant, who had not stayed in the team hotel during the break period, tested positive on July 8. He is asymptomatic and currently undergoing self-isolation at the place where he reported positive. He is being closely monitored by the BCCI medical team and is on his way to recovery. He will be able to join the squad in Durham after returning two negative RT-PCR tests.”
Pant had last month posted pictures on social media of him attending a Euro match last month. “Both Pant and Saha will be unavailable for the team’s practice game against Combined County XI at Chester-le-Street at Durham from July 20, which means KL Rahul should be doing the glovework in that game. However, Pant should be able to make it to the team’s second practice match – an intra-squad game from July 28,” informed a source.
Good experience watching ⚽️. 🏴 vs 🇩🇪 https://t.co/LvOYex5svE
— Rishabh Pant (@RishabhPant17) 1625019962000
“The entire Indian contingent including travelling family members and caretakers were administered with the second dose of Covid vaccine earlier this month in London. To mitigate any further risks, the Indian contingent is taking the Lateral Flow Test on a daily basis,” Shah said in his statement.
Apart from Saha and Pant, Easwaran too will miss India’s first practice match. Saha was struck by Covid-19 during the IPL.
The jolt comes just after Shah sent an e-mail (TOI reported it in its edition on July 15) to the Indian contingent, warning it about the rising cases of Covid-19 in UK. Shah, in his letter, told the players to “avoid” crowded places. In his letter, Shah had specifically stated that players should avoid going to the Wimbledon and Euro Championships in England.
The Indian team is on a break after losing the World Test Championship (WTC) final to New Zealand at Southampton last month.
Earlier this month, the England cricket team too was hit by a virus outbreak in its camp, and was forced to field an altogether different XI in its ODI series against Pakistan.