Players, especially overseas recruits, are edgy following the emergence of two COVID-19 cases in the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) camp on Monday, but franchises feel that the IPL should continue despite the ever-increasing threat of the raging pandemic.
Questions are being raised on how a strict bio-bubble, created for the T20 league, was breached after KKR’s Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier got infected with the deadly virus. Foreign players, who were already anxious about getting home with travel restricted from India, are more worried.
“There is no going back now with half of the tournament done. The news of positive cases in KKR makes the BCCI’s job more challenging,” a franchise official told PTI. “We have been hearing that a player got infected because he was taken outside the bubble for scans. So, it could have happened outside the bubble. As far as I know, everyone is strictly following the protocols laid out by the BCCI,” added the official.
Another franchise official said that the tournament should continue as long as other teams are not affected by the virus. “Even if you have to pause the tournament, how long can you hold back? The only way is to keep isolating the positive cases and keep playing. The players are naturally anxious now but it is mainly because they are not sure about how they would get back home,” said the official.
UK, Australia and New Zealand have banned travellers from India and a sizable number of players competing in the IPL are from these countries. “We should let the BCCI decide what is best for all of us. Flooding it with too many opinions on what should be done, following the cases at KKR, would only lead to more confusion,” said another top official of a team.
Five-time champion Mumbai Indians (MI) has been testing its players and support staff on a daily basis and the other teams are likely to follow suit. A former India player, competing in the league, summed it up aptly.
“There is a lot of anxiety among players. We are being tested every second day but looking at the situation in the country, you are always scared about what is next in case you test positive,” he said. “We are hanging in there, but you just cannot negate the fear factor,” he added.