IPL bubble bursts as five test positive to COVID-19
Two Kolkata players and three off-field staff at Chennai return positive tests, forcing the postponement of Monday night’s game
3 May 2021, 09:10 PM AEST
Five Indian Premier League personnel from two franchises have tested positive to COVID-19, forcing the postponement of Monday night's game and throwing uncertainty over the rest of the tournament.
The IPL confirmed on Monday evening that Kolkata Knight Riders pair Varun Chakaravarthy and Sandeep Warrier had both returned positive tests, just hours before Kolkata were scheduled to face the Royal Challengers Bangalore in Ahmedabad.
Cricket.com.au has also confirmed an ESPNCricinfo report that three off-field members of the Chennai Super Kings have also tested positive; CEO Kasi Viswanathan, bowling coach and former India paceman L Balaji and a bus cleaner.
Indian media is reporting that Viswanathan returned a negative result in a subsequent test.
The remaining players and staff of the two teams, including Australian players Pat Cummins, Ben Cutting (both KKR) and Jason Behrendorff (CSK) as well as brothers Mike (CSK) and David Hussey (KKR), who hold assistant coach roles, have all tested negative.
The news comes as former Australia opener Michael Slater, who has reportedly flown to the Maldives having been in India commentating on the tournament, slammed the Australian Government for banning all flights from India until May 15.
If our Government cared for the safety of Aussies they would allow us to get home. It's a disgrace!! Blood on your hands PM. How dare you treat us like this. How about you sort out quarantine system. I had government permission to work on the IPL but I now have government neglect— Michael Slater (@mj_slats) May 3, 2021
Three Australian players – Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson – returned home last week, but there remain 13 Australian players as well as a host of Australian coaches, commentators and officials in India.
The flight ban was followed by a government warning that those who attempt to return having recently been in India could face a heavy fine and even a jail term.
Representatives for two Australian players have indicated to cricket.com.au that they plan to stay in the IPL bubble until the tournament ends on May 31, despite Monday's positive tests.
The IPL is being played in a bio-secure bubble and, until now, had not been breached by the virus that has devastated that country.
Kolkata and Chennai played each other in Mumbai 12 days ago but have since parted ways, with the Knight Riders heading to Ahmedabad and the Super Kings to Delhi.
It's understood one of the infected Kolkata players recently went to hospital after suffering a stomach complaint, which is believed to be the likely time of infection.
The player isolated upon his return to the IPL bubble and returned a negative test but, 12 hours later, he and his teammate both returned a positive test.
The two infected players are currently isolating from the rest of the team.
"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," an IPL statement read.
"Both the players have isolated themselves from the rest of the squad. 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 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 KKR v RCB match has not yet been rescheduled to a later date and it's not been confirmed if CSK's game against Rajasthan on Wednesday will go ahead as planned.
Kolkata last played a game against Delhi last Thursday, while CSK's most recent match came against Mumbai last Saturday.
Speaking earlier on Monday, before the news of the positive tests emerged, CA's interim Chief Executive Officer Nick Hockley said no plans had yet been made about how the Australians in India would be able to return home.
"There's no suggestion at the moment of any charter flight," Hockley told Melbourne radio station SEN.
"We're working closely and talking closely with the ACA (Australian Cricketers' Association), with the players and with the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) to make sure everyone's okay and the people have got full information.
"We've been in touch with the players there and they are generally in good spirits.
"The BCCI have come out and said they understand and want to support the players in making sure they get home safely at the end.
"The tournament doesn't finish until the 30th (31st) of May, so for the moment it's monitor the situation and as we get closer to the end of the tournament we'll need to see where the situation is at."