Kieron Pollard with Andre Russell

GETTING ON WITH IT: West Indies white ball captain Kieron Pollard, right, and WI teammate Andre Russell share a light moment before Pollard’s Mumbai Indians and Russell’s Kolkata Knight Riders met in an Indian Premier League T20 match last month. —Photo courtesy IPL

Cricket West Indies (CWI) is keeping a close eye on developments in the Indian Premier League and its players competing in the bio-secure tournament after a few Covid-19 infections were confirmed within the “bubble” yesterday, raising concerns over the fate of the world’s richest Twenty20 tournament.

The IPL match yesterday between the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Royal Challenges Bangalore was postponed following the confirmation that KKR’s Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier had tested positive in Ahmedabad.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Sunil Narine and Jamaica’s Andre Russell are both of part of the KKR outfit.

Meanwhile, there were also reports of three positive Covid-19 cases in the Chennai Super Kings camp among non-playing staff. T&T’s Dwayne Bravo is on the CSK roster but didn’t play in Saturday’s game against West Indies white-ball skipper Kieron Pollard and the Mumbai Indians.

Mumbai Indians are due to face West Indies all-rounder Jason Holder and the Sunrisers Hyderabad today but the ESPNcricinfo website reported yesterday that neither team trained at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground after suspected positive cases among the ground staff.

The Delhi Capitals, who Shimron Hetmyer competes for in the IPL, were the last team to play against KKR and they had two players testing positive. Those players have been asked to isolate themselves at their hotel in Ahmedabad.

CWI chief executive officer Johnny Grave confirmed yesterday that the regional body had been in contact with its players in the IPL and they too share the concerns over the spread of the virus in India.

“Yes, we’ve been in contact with our players through our medical staff. Obviously, they are all concerned about the Covid-19 situation in India at the moment,” Grave told the Express.

Asked if the IPL bubble breach will force CWI to rethink how its handles similar bio-secure arrangements for upcoming home series, Grave said:“Our bio-secure protocols are well established and are agreed in close consultation with the host governments. We take all the necessary precautions as keeping everyone safe is our No. 1 priority.”

CWI recently successfully hosted Sri Lanka in a bio-secure bubble in Antigua and before that, the CG Insurance Super50 Cup was also successfully staged in a similar environment.

Meanwhile in India, KKR have now moved towards a daily testing routine to identify any other possible cases and treat them at the earliest possible time and the team’s medical staff are tracing close contacts of both the infected players.

A senior Indian cricket board official told the Reuters news agency last week that the league would continue as planned, defying fierce social media criticism for staging the tournament amid India’s national coronavirus crisis. Australian players Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson cut short their IPL stints and returned home.

Yesterday, India reported more than 300,000 new Covid-19 cases for a 12th straight day.

Reuters reported that IPL chairman Brijesh Patel did not respond to requests for comment, but a member of the league’s governing council said there was no threat of the tournament being called off.

“We are investigating how the infection happened, but we have full confidence in the bio-bubble arrangements. It’s totally secure,” the member said by telephone requesting anonymity.

Cricket Australia said it has no immediate plans to bring its players back from India.

“We’ve been in touch with the players there and they are generally in good spirits,” CA acting chief executive Nick Hockley told radio station SEN before the Indian cricket board (BCCI) made public the positives cases in the IPL.

“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.”

Australia has banned all arrivals from India until May 15.

Last year’s IPL was staged in the United Arab Emirates because of the pandemic. The UAE is also the back-up venue for this year’s Twenty20 World Cup which is scheduled to take place in India in October-November.

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