CHENNAI: On a day when Sunrisers Hyderabad’s T Natarajan tested positive for Covid-19, their Indian Premier League (IPL) match against Delhi Capitals went ahead in Dubai. The move is bold but the IPL Governing Council is sounding fairly confident that with all necessary protocols in place, there is no need to press the panic button. It’s to be noted that the board’s Covid-19 based quarantine norms is in line with Dubai Health Authorities (DHA).
Unlike in May when the organisers and the BCCI were forced to reschedule a match — before ultimately calling it off — after two players tested positive on the morning of a match (Kolkata and Bangalore), Wednesday’s match took place as scheduled. As soon as Natarajan’s test results came back positive, the organisers were on the toes, ensuring the entire Hyderabad contingent underwent RT-PCR tests at 5 in the morning. Although there isn’t a GPS mechanism in place like in 2020, when the IPL was held in the UAE, the BCCI has put in place bubble-integrity managers for each team. They monitor movements of players round the clock and are allowed to review CCTV footages for the purposes of contact tracing. This is how they were able to identify and isolate all of Natarajan’s close contacts.
According to a BCCI statement, all-rounder Vijay Shankar and net bowler G Periyaswamy are among those under isolation. The others happen to be support staffers Vijay Kumar (team manager), Shyam Sundar J (physiotherapist), Anjana Vannan (doctor) and Tushar Khedkar (logistics manager). As per the IPL health protocols, they are undergoing isolation at a separate wing of the hotel and will be allowed to re-enter the bubble after six days, provided they test negative in the tests scheduled on Days 2,4 and 6.
Although Natarajan attended Tuesday’s training session, the BCCI and the Governing Council gave the greenlight for the match only because the rest of Hyderabad contingent tested negative. While a Covid-positive case inside the bio-bubble does create a scare, the BCCI believes they have put all the mechanism in place and there is no possibility of the virus breaching the bubble from the outside.
“During the India leg, it was possible for the outsiders to come in contact with the players or use the common areas in the hotel. In Dubai and Abu Dhabi, teams are kept in a separate wing and public have no access to bio-secure area. All the loose ends are covered. A thorough check was done to identify if there were any breaches,” an IPL official tracking the developments said.
While all the teams took a charter flight to the UAE before undergoing mandatory quarantine, Natarajan had taken a commercial airline, which the BCCI suspects could have made him contract the virus.