The Indians’ training session, one day off from the start of the fifth Test, has been cancelled and the players have been asked to stay in their hotel rooms
In a development that could have a major impact on the fifth and final Test of India’s tour of England, in Manchester, one more member of India’s support staff has tested positive for Covid-19, and the Indian team’s training session the day before the start of the Test had to be cancelled as a result. ESPNcricinfo understands that the Indian squad members have been asked to stay back in their hotel rooms till further notice.
It has been learnt that the latest positive case emerged after a fresh round of testing on Wednesday evening; the team had trained as scheduled on Wednesday morning. The entire Indian squad has since undergone a fresh round of testing – on Thursday morning. The results for these are awaited.
Earlier, during the fourth Test of the series at The Oval, which India won by 157 runs to take a 2-1 lead in the series, Ravi Shastri, Bharat Arun and R Sridhar, the head coach, bowling coach and fielding coach of the Indian team respectively, had tested positive for Covid-19. That has prevented them from travelling to Manchester with the rest of the contingent.
Nitin Patel, the team physiotherapist who, along with Arun and Sridhar, was identified as Shastri’s immediate contact and was forced to isolate for a day after Shastri returned his first positive test, has returned a negative RT-PCR test since, and is with the team.
As per UK government rules, those who return positive RT-PCR tests have to isolate for ten days and return two negative tests, so Shastri, Arun and Sridhar will have to stay on in London even as the series concludes in Manchester.
Indian national-team players have had to deal with more than one Covid-19-related incident in recent times, and this, in fact, is the second time Arun has been affected since reaching England. The first time was in July when Arun, as well as squad members Wriddhiman Saha and Abhimanyu Easwaran, were forced to quarantine for ten days after being identified as close contacts of training assistant/net bowler Dayanand Garani, who tested positive for Covid-19 on July 14.
That was not long after Rishabh Pant, the first-choice Test wicketkeeper, had tested positive for Covid-19 as well.
Even as the Indian team was grappling with these developments in England, the second-string team that had travelled to Sri Lanka to take part in a short series of limited-overs matches had their own Covid-19 issues to deal with. First, Krunal Pandya tested positive between the first and second T20Is – which had come after the ODIs – and eight other players, who were Pandya’s close contacts, had to go into isolation too.
Such was the situation that the second T20I had to be pushed back by a day, and even after that, India barely managed to field an XI.
After that, two more players, Yuzvendra Chahal and K Gowtham, also tested positive, and while the others returned home at the end of the tour, Pandya, Chahal and Gowtham had to stay back in Sri Lanka, complete their quarantine, and return home in the first week of August after returning negative tests.
More to follow…
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo