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Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Explained: How more double-headers can help BCCI overcome rescheduling nightmare

Only last week, with India reeling under a second wave of the pandemic, BCCI’s interim CEO Hemang Amin had assured all the teams that they were “totally safe” in the IPL bio-bubble.

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty , Edited by Explained Desk | Kolkata |
May 3, 2021 2:59:17 pm
Varun Chakravarthy of Kolkata Knight Riders celebrates the wicket of Shivam Dube of Rajasthan Royals during an IPL match at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. File/PTI Photo/Sportzpics for IPL)

The BCCI faces an Indian Premier League (IPL) fixture rescheduling nightmare following the postponement of Monday’s game between Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Royal Challengers (RCB).

The game had to be postponed after two KKR players – Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier – tested positive for coronavirus. The game was set to be played at Motera in Ahmedabad, but the BCCI now might have to rejig the entire IPL itinerary. Two members of the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) contingent and a cleaner of their team bus have also tested positive for the virus in New Delhi. CSK have cancelled their practice session scheduled for Monday.

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Why this might affect other matches

Over the past 14 days, KKR played against Delhi Capitals, Rajasthan Royals, Punjab Kings and Chennai Super Kings. It is learnt that players from those sides have also been asked to self-isolate by their respective franchises. Match officials involved in those matches, too, might have to serve a quarantine period.

As per the IPL Covid-19 guidelines, “close contact” of an affected person should “isolate for six days” and return “3 negative tests on Day 1, 3 and 6”.

So the situation not just puts a question mark over KKR’s matches, but will involve at least four other franchises as well.

How can the fixture congestion be solved?

The 2021 IPL had a total of 11 double-headers to start with. In the current scenario, the BCCI is likely to increase the number of double-headers. Also, it is learnt that players from the teams that have played against KKR will be tested daily and arrangements have been made with a hospital to ensure that test reports are obtained the same day. KKR, too, as an IPL media advisory has informed, have moved towards a daily testing routine “to identify any other possible cases and treat them at the earliest”.

Given that the IPL has a limited window, it might not stick to the letter of the law as regards to the tournament’s Covid-19 safety protocols, although the BCCI will ensure that player safety and bio-security are not compromised. More double-headers appear to be the only way to deal with the fixture pile-up.

Doesn’t BCCI have the leeway for an extension?

The final of the tournament is scheduled on May 30 and there’s little leeway for an extension. At most, the tournament could be stretched into early June but that too seems unlikely.

The ICC World Test Championship (WTC) final between India and New Zealand is scheduled to be played at Southampton from June 18-22 and the Indian team ideally needs a clear 15-day gap between the IPL and the WTC final.

How could the players contract Covid despite being in the bubble?

Only last week, with India reeling under a second wave of the pandemic, BCCI’s interim CEO Hemang Amin had assured all the teams that they were “totally safe” in the IPL bio-bubble. That two players contracted the virus despite being in the bubble came as a surprise.

A source informed that Chakravarthy left the bio-bubble to have a scan on his shoulder. The KKR spinner left through the official channel and had permission from the BCCI and his franchise to go for the scan. It is believed that he got exposed during the process.

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