After much consultation and hypothesis, the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) and the BCCI have chosen to proceed with the final T20I to be played on Wednesday (July 28). The series was in peril after India all-rounder Krunal Pandya tested positive for COVID-19. His rapid antigen and RT-PCR tests both results returned positive and the cricketer had additionally grumbled of sore throat on Tuesday morning.
Besides, the clinical teams recognized eight players as close contacts of Krunal even as the entire visiting contingent isolated themselves. Notwithstanding, in a new set of tests, every one of the close contacts returned negative results for the infection late on Tuesday. In any case, they are managed out of the leftover two T20I matches to be played on July 28 and 29.
“Following the Rapid Antigen Tests conducted ahead of the match on Tuesday morning, Team India all-rounder Krunal Pandya was found to be positive. The Medical Teams have identified eight members as close contacts,” said the BCCI release.
“The entire contingent is undergoing RT-PCR tests today to ascertain any further outbreak in the squad,” it added. The rescheduling of tomorrow’s game, however, came with a rider that everything from here on needed to go well.
According to the Indian Express, apart from Krunal Pandya, the players who are not available for the rest of the series are – Hardik Pandya, Suryakumar Yadav, Prithvi Shaw, Deepak Chahar, Krishnappa Gowtham, Ishan Kishan, and Yuzvendra Chahal. This has severely limited India’s batting resources for the series and there is every possibility of the reserve players being included in the squad.
Net bowlers, Ishan Porel, Sandeep Warrier, Arshdeep Singh, Sai Kishore, Simarjeet Singh have been included in the main squad for the next two games.
With a lot of players not available to play for the last two T20Is, India is likely to hand more debut T20I caps. The likes of Devdutt Padikkal and Ruturaj Gaikwad are now likely to make their T20I debuts and there is also another possibility of reserve players making it to the squad.
Despite so much uncertainty, according to the reports, the BCCI and SLC held a meeting on Wednesday afternoon to decide about the future of the series. After much deliberation, it was finally decided that the series will go ahead. As far as the series is concerned, Sri Lanka is in a must-win situation and will have to win this match to stay alive in the series.
This is the second time the series/tour has suffered Covid-forced postponements. A virus outbreak in the Sri Lankan camp before the start of the limited-overs series pushed back the ODI leg of the tour to July 18 from its scheduled start on July 13. The Sri Lankan team is said to be unaffected by the latest developments.
Authorities are tight-lipped on how Covid entered the Indian camp. Both teams are operating out of a bio-bubble, with a hotel exclusively assigned to them.
It was learned on Wednesday afternoon that 8 India players – Krunal Pandya, Hardik Pandya, Suryakumar Yadav, Prithvi Shaw, Deepak Chahar, K Gowtham, Ishan Kishan, Yuzvendra Chahal – are under isolation and are set to miss the second and third T20Is.
Also, the matches are being played behind closed doors. Professor Arjuna de Silva, who is in charge of SLC’s bio-bubble protocols for international tours, told ESPNcricinfo that how Krunal contracted Covid remained a “mystery”, with “no reports of the bubble being broken”.
Even the home team is grappled with injuries and the three players, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Pathum Nissanka, and Charith Asalanka are unlikely to play in the second T20I. Moreover, Rajapaksa has been ruled out of the series.