CHENNAI: The fate of the fourth Border-Gavaskar Trophy Test in Brisbane hangs in the balance as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Cricket Australia are headed for talks in the coming days. The crux of the issue is with regard to restricted movement in Brisbane, which bars the touring side from even stepping out of their rooms once they are in the hotel.
The Indian team has been discontent about these new restrictions which have even ensured that they cannot step out of their hotel in Sydney. With Queensland shutting its borders with New South Wales because of the spike in COVID-19 cases, the CA were forced to restrict the movement of both the teams to the hotel and Sydney Cricket Ground so that it can move to Brisbane without any hassle.
This was not part of the initial plan laid out by CA, which had stated that apart from the two-week quarantine period at the start of the tour, players will be free to step out of their hotel and lead a normal life like Australian citizens. However, the recent spike in Sydney made them alter the plan, but since the city isn't under any sort of lockdown, the Indian team feels there shouldn't be any restriction in their movement.
India's stand-in captain was asked about the issue, which has been on for several days with unnamed sources in the Indian camp expressing their displeasure. Speaking on Wednesday, Rahane played a straight bat. "As players, we are just focusing on this Test match. BCCI and team management will take the other decisions. Quarantine life is definitely a challenge when we know that in Australia, especially in Sydney, life is normal. And players are stuck in the room, but it's okay. We know how to handle it. We are prepared for any kind of situation," Rahane said.
It is understood that CA has assured the BCCI that there won't be any hard quarantining in Brisbane, but the Indian team is seeking written guarantees about the same. For instance, the Indians don't want to remain locked in their hotel rooms in Brisbane as they are seeking access to a common area where they can all meet without any restrictions.
There is also disquiet among the Indian team management and players about how the BCCI hasn't been entirely understanding of the issue. Apart from Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari and the support staff, the rest have been living in a bio-secure bubble since August 21 having completed two 14-day quarantine cycles in the UAE and Australia. Which is why they feel aggrieved that another 17 days in a hard bio-bubble will take a toll on their mental side.
In case the CA fails to get written assurances from Queensland government, the Indian team management has requested the BCCI to ensure the fourth Test is not played in Brisbane. This episode has already added spice to the contest which is locked 1-1 going into the third Test in Sydney. Australia had wanted to start the Test series in Brisbane, but quarantine rules made them alter the plan. Now if India do succeed in taking the fourth Test from the Gabba — a venue Australia haven't lost a Test since 1988 — the hosts are bound to be unhappy.