COVID-19 bursts IPL bubble: KKR-RCB match postponed
New Delhi: A COVID-19 outbreak left the star-sprinkled IPL on tenterhooks as Kolkata Knight Riders' Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier tested positive for the dreaded virus, forcing postponement of their game against Royal Challengers Bangalore, while cases also came to light in the Chennai Super Kings camp.
The match, which was to be held in Ahmedabad this evening, will be rescheduled some time later during the tournament, which will conclude on May 30.
"Varun Chakravarthy 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," the league, which features the biggest names in international cricket, said in a press release.
Apart from this, Chennai Super Kings CEO Kasi Viswanathan, bowling coach L Balaji and a bus cleaner with the contingent tested positive on Sunday. A top BCCI official, after declaring all three cases to be "false positives", later clarified that Balaji along with the unnamed cleaner had come out positive even in the repeat test.
"Three members of CSK contingent, CEO Kasi, bowling coach L Balaji and a bus driver had tested positive in the morning followed by negative Rapid Antigen test report," the source said.
"However second RT-PCR report found Balaji and bus driver positive again. The others in the team especially playing members have tested negative," he added.
CSK, currently based in Delhi, suspended their training for the day and are scheduled to face Rajasthan Royals on May 5. The team had been hit by COVID cases even in the 2020 edition which was held in the UAE.
There was cause of concern in Delhi too as a few groundsmen at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium, which is due to host Mumbai Indians vs SunRisers Hyderabad on Tuesday, have also tested positive for the virus.
However, Delhi and Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) chief Rohan Jaitley asserted that "none of the groundsmen on duty" are among them.
The BCCI continued to insist that the league will go on but Monday's developments have definitely cast a shadow on how the COVD-19 threat would be managed for an event being staged across six venues -- two at one time.
Leg-spinner Chakravarthy and pacer Warrier, both 30, have been isolated and the rest of the KKR contingent has returned negative reports for now. Of the two, Warrier has not yet made the playing XI in any of the seven matches KKR have played.
"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," the IPL stated.
"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," it added.
KKR last played on April 29 against Delhi Capitals in Ahmedabad and the development is bound to trigger anxiety in the league, which had been going along smoothly so far in a bio-secure bubble in front of empty stands.