New Delhi: A COVID-19 outbreak left the Indian Premier League (IPL) on tenterhooks as Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) tested positive for the dreaded virus. This development has forced the IPL governing body to cancel the match between KKR and Royal Challengers Bangalore in Ahmedabad. The match was to be played Monday evening. The match will be rescheduled some time later during the tournament, which will conclude May 30.
“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,” the IPL body said in a press release.
Apart from this, it also came to light that Chennai Super Kings (CSK) CEO Kasi Viswanathan, bowling coach L Balaji and a lower rung staff member tested positive Sunday. However, all three returned negative reports Monday. A top BCCI source declared theirs as a case of ‘false positives’.
Additionally, a few groundsmen at Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium, which is due to host Tuesday the Mumbai Indians vs SunRisers Hyderabad game, have also tested positive for the virus. However, Delhi and Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) chief Rohan Jaitley said ‘none of the groundsmen on duty’ are among them.
The BCCI insisted that the league will go on. However, 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.
Leg-spinner Chakravarthy and pacer Warrier, both 30, have been isolated. 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 is 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 April 29 against Delhi Capitals in Ahmedabad and the development is bound to trigger anxiety in the league. Prior to this development, the tournament had been going along smoothly so far in a bio-secure bubble in front of empty stands.
“Now, the DC players (currently in Ahmedabad) will also have to be tested. Every member of the team contingents that came in contact with Chakravarthy and Warrier will also be contact traced through the app watch that has been given to everyone,” a BCCI source said.
According to IPL’s Standard Operating Procedure for COVID-19 management, any close contact of an infected person has to isolate for six days and return three negative tests on days 1, 3 and 6.
It is learnt that KKR’s pace spearhead Pat Cummins revealed the latest development to all the Australian players in the IPL. This happened after Chakravarthy, while undergoing some shoulder scans for a niggle after Thursday’s game, tested positive for the virus.
Chakravarthy has appeared in all of KKR’s matches so far and been one of their most successful players with seven wickets under his belt.
IPL had dealt with positive cases before the tournament started, including some high-profile names like Axar Patel and Devdutt Padikkal. However, this is the first instance of positive cases in the middle of the tournament.
“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 IPL stated.