IPL 2021 postponed amid increased COVID-19 count

Sandeep Warrier
Kolkata Knight Riders Sandeep Warrier, second left, celebrates with teammates the dismissal of Kings XI Punjab’s Chris Gayle during the VIVO IPL T20 cricket match between Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knight Riders in Mohali, India, Friday, May 3, 2019.
Associated Press/Surjeet Yadav, file

The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 has been postponed following several positive COVID-19 cases across franchises over the past couple of days, according to ESPNcricinfo.

The online sports media house reported on Tuesday that there is no official word yet on when or whether the remainder of the tournament will be staged.

However, BCCI Vice President, Rajiv Shukla was emphatic that it “will happen,” stating that a decision would be taken when the pandemic situation improved.

“The IPL said the decision was “unanimously” taken by the tournament’s Governing Council and the BCCI.

“The BCCI does not want to compromise on the safety of the players, support staff and the other participants involved in organizing the IPL,” the statement said. “This decision was taken keeping the safety, health and wellbeing of all the stakeholders in mind.

“These are difficult times, especially in India, and while we have tried to bring in some positivity and cheer, however, it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone goes back to their families and loved ones in these trying times,” it added.

The statement also said the BCCI would do “do everything in its powers to arrange for the secure and safe passage of all the participants in IPL 2021.”

BCCI Vice President, Rajiv Shukla.  Associated Press/Aijaz Rahi, file

ESPNcricinfo said the announcement came following increasing COVID-19 positive cases within the IPL.

It said the Sunrisers Hyderabad became the third franchise to register cases when it was confirmed earlier on Tuesday that Wriddhiman Saha had tested positive for COVID-19 and was isolating from the rest of the squad.

On Monday, the Kolkata Knight Riders’ Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier tested positive, resulting in the postponement of the day’s match between the Knight Riders and the Royal Challengers Bangalore in Ahmedabad, ESPNcricinfo reported.

It said that, within hours, came news from Delhi of two confirmed cases in the Chennai Super Kings camp: bowling coach L Balaji and a member of their service staff.

Balaji’s case, in particular, raised concerns among the other franchises as he was in the team’s dugout on May 1 during the match against the Mumbai Indians, ESPNcricinfo said.

Earlier on Tuesday, it was confirmed that the Super Kings had gone into isolation for a week.

ESPNcricinfo said the Saha news soon followed, before the tournament’s postponement was announced.

The tournament has been held with India in the grip of a vicious second wave of the pandemic, with the six host cities – New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Ahmedabad – among the worst hit, ESPNcricinfo said.

It said the rising numbers – around 400,000 new positive cases daily over the past few days – prompted several countries to ban travelers from India.

The Australian government even imposed a ban on its own citizens returning from India until May 15, saying that any transgression would be deemed a criminal offence, according to ESPNcricinfo.

It said this led to a statement last week from the BCCI that sought to reassure all stakeholders and the eight teams that the tournament bubble was “totally safe.”