The BCCI/IPL, on Monday, sent a statement confirming two cricketers from the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) camp – Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier – tested positive and the match between KKR and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), scheduled for Monday has been postponed for now.
“The medical team is also determining the close and casual contacts of the two positive cases during the 48 hours prior to collecting the sample,” the BCCI statement added.
However, it is not just the Knight Riders camp battling Covid and in a state of panic at the moment.
Three members of the Chennai Super Kings franchise, including bowling coach Laxmipathy Balaji have also tested positive. These tests were RT-PCR tests, conducted over the last 48 hours. Balaji was in the CSK dressing room in their last match vs Mumbai Indians. However, rapid antigen tests conducted on Monday afternoon indicated a negative test for all three, spreading massive confusion within the ecosystem.
Right now, franchises are unable to determine whether to trust the tests at first go or do multiple tests before arriving at a conclusion.
🚨 #IPL2021 ANNOUNCEMENT: Tonight’s match #KKRvRCB has been rescheduled. More details soon.
— KolkataKnightRiders (@KKRiders) 1620029856000
“What if positive tests are being concluded as negative? Aren’t we risking going to the ground every day? ask sources involved with the league.
The BCCI is determining the extent to which cases have spread within the CSK franchise, is busy contact-tracing and asking teams to repeat tests on a continuing basis.
“They don’t even have a central bio-bubble to track this. The medical company to which this was outsourced has done a shoddy job. The medical officer of the BCCI needs to be questioned on the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) that were put in place. This is a huge mess,” IPL stakeholders told TOI on Monday.
UPDATE: IPL reschedules today’s #KKRvRCB match after two KKR players test positive. #VIVOIPL Details -… https://t.co/Vk4Bed2j0t
— IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) 1620027637000
On Monday morning, a top BCCI official flew to one of the cities, where franchises are based out of, with more than 500 rapid antigen test kits. “Why were they already not in place before teams had arrived?” asked those tracking developments.
Official Announcement:Today’s match between KKR and RCB has been postponed by the BCCI as per IPL Safety Guidelin… https://t.co/3rXAxmP7x4
— Royal Challengers Bangalore (@RCBTweets) 1620027503000
Each franchise is privately willing to admit that:
1) There’s serious panic in the camp and cricket is the last thing on their minds
2) There’s doubt over whether all participants in the IPL – BCCI, franchises/players, officials, event organisers, broadcasters – are revealing positive cases, strictly following the SOP and respecting the protocols of a ‘bio-bubble’.
“Is there a bio-bubble in the first place, outside of what the franchises – at least some – have built for themselves?” ask those in the know.
Positive cases have hit the IPL only after travel resumed in the last week of April. At the beginning of the tournament, there were cases because of the travel. There’s more travel happening over the coming weeks.
Under the current schedule, the IPL is next going to shift to Kolkata and Bangalore – two cities that are reeling at the moment because of the virus. The cases in Bangalore have been relentlessly rising this week while in Kolkata, as locals say, “almost 50% of the city is positive right now”.
Can the current edition of the IPL realistically continue? The stakeholders are not ready yet to ask this openly.
However, privately, the same stakeholders are raising serious questions and making their individual stance clear. Here are some…
* The IPL has to stop unless the BCCI thinks it’s more important than the safety of players and everybody else involved.
* Agree there’s a lot at stake and it’s also an important tool of distraction for those stuck inside their homes. But that can’t happen at the cost of negligence. Either shift the IPL to one venue or take a break.
* The BCCI was strongly advised to shift it to the UAE once again. They wanted to protect the idea of how India is a safe venue for the T20 World Cup. Now it’s reached a stage where the world is saying the T20 World Cup needs to be shifted.
* The franchises have been saying it from Day One that the manner in which this year’s edition has been organised, given the conditions prevailing, is dangerous and the BCCI needs to revise the protocols.
* Shifting to Kolkata and Bangalore for matches is the most dangerous thing to do in the given scenario.
TOI understands that Monday’s match between KKR and RCB was postponed only after “certain officials” put their foot down.
It is time now for BCCI to take a “very practical call” on the matter at the earliest.