Indian Cricket Team Faces Keeper Crisis After COVID-19 Hits Team Squad.
Goalie-hitter Rishabh Pant and takedown specialist Dayanand Garani tested positive for COVID-19, while three others were placed in preventive isolation when the dreaded virus struck the Indian cricket team ahead of next month’s test series against the hosts England. (More cricket news)
Bowling coach Bharath Arun and backup goalkeeper Wriddhiman Saha were placed in isolation for having been in contact with Garani along with backup starter Abhimanyu Easwaran, whose inclusion had sparked a recent storm. Garani’s COVID report arrived this morning.
Arun, Easwaran, and Saha are known to have tested negative but must follow the UK Government Health and Safety Protocol.
All five are currently in London, with the rest arriving in Durham tonight after meeting again after a 20-day break. London to Durham is a five-hour bus ride.
Pant and Saha could miss the practice game scheduled to begin July 20 against a combined county team. In that case, KL Rahul will stand against Combined Counties.
A BCCI source confirmed that Pant has been in isolation for the past eight days. According to the source, he is asymptomatic at this time.
“He is under quarantine at the home of an acquaintance and will not be traveling with the team to Durham on Thursday,” he said without disclosing when the 23-year-old will join the team.
However, he is likely to be tested for COVID-19 in the next few days.
The rest of the team, without Pant and the injured Shubman Gill, set out for Durham on Thursday from London.
Gill had suffered a leg injury earlier this month and the young hitter had left the team’s bio-bubble.
The event comes on the heels of BCCI Secretary Jay Shah sending an email to the Indian contingent, warning them of rising COVID-19 cases in the UK.
The break was given to the players after the World Test Championship against New Zealand, which the team lost last month.
“Yes, one player tested positive, but he has been isolated for the last eight days. He was not staying in any hotel with the team, so no other player has been affected,” BCCI Vice President Rajiv Shukla told PTI.
“So far no other player has tested positive. You should also know that our secretary Jay Shah has written a letter to all players to maintain protocols,” Shukla added.
Pant is understood to have been affected by the Delta variant, leading to an increase in the number of cases in England.
He was seen attending a European championship match last month and had even posted photos on his social media accounts.
He underwent a test after experiencing a low fever.
Shah, in his letter, told players to “avoid” crowded places as Covishield, the vaccine that has been given to the team only provides protection, not total immunity against the virus.
In fact, Shah’s letter specifically said that players should avoid going to the Wimbledon and Euro championships, which recently concluded there.
The Indian team will face England in a five-match test series starting on August 4. He will play a practice game beginning July 20 in preparation for the high-intensity series.
The confrontation between India and England marks the beginning of the second cycle of the World Trials Championship.
Recently, the England team was also affected by the virus and was forced to present a completely different XI in a limited-overs match against Pakistan.
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