'With a lot riding on IPL, BCCI was braced for bio-bubble breach'

While the news of KKR players testing positive for Covid came as a shock, the board had factored in such a scenario while formulating the IPL 2021 strategy, according to a source

e4m by Javed Farooqui
Updated: May 4, 2021 9:21 AM

With the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) rescheduling Match 30 between Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) after two KKR players -- Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier -- tested positive for Covid, the industry is rife with concerns and speculations about the possible way forward for the IPL 2021 itinerary. 

After a smooth sailing in the first half of the IPL, this is the first major case of players testing positive. Ever since the case came to light, rumour mills started working overtime with some suggesting that the IPL's second half will not be a smooth affair. Each IPL season comprises 60 matches. 

In the unlikely event of matches getting cancelled, the broadcasters and sponsors (broadcast and digital) will not have to pay for the matches that get cancelled. 

But according to an industry source, the BCCI had factored in this scenario while formulating the IPL 2021 strategy. "This is not an alarming situation from a BCCI point of view as the board had factored in this kind of a scenario. There is a lot riding on the IPL and the BCCI stands to lose the most if the IPL gets derailed," the source.

With that being said, the narrow gap between IPL 2021 and the ICC Test Championship, which will be played between India-New Zealand from 18-22 June, could possibly make matters worse for BCCI. In the unlikely scenario of matches getting rescheduled due to Covid, the BCCI has very limited space available in case it wants to stretch the IPL beyond May to complete the tournament.

"Considering the stakes involved and the fact that the BCCI has a powerful secretary in Jay Shah (son of Home Minister Amit Shah), the cricket board will put its might behind making the IPL happen. For BCCI, IPL is more important than the ICC Test Championship," the source added hinting that the IPL might get an extended window in case Covid impacts more matches.

The KKR players were found to be positive in the third round of testing in the last four days. "All other team members have tested negative for COVID -19. Both players have isolated themselves from the rest of the squad. The Medical Team is in continuous touch with the duo and are monitoring their health. Meanwhile, the Kolkata Knight Riders have now moved towards a daily testing routine to identify any other possible cases and treat them at the earliest," BCCI said in a media release.

"The Medical Team is also determining the close and casual contacts of the two positive cases during the 48 hours prior to collection of the sample that returned the positive test results. The BCCI and the Kolkata Knight Riders prioritise the health and safety of everyone involved and all measures are being taken in that endeavour."

BCCI had ensured players' safety with a three-part protocol: First, by securing Covid negative players in a bio-bubble, second by ensuring that sanctity of the bubble is maintained and third by testing all members of the crew at regular intervals to ensure there's no case of the infection going untested or undetected. It's unclear at this point how the breach in the bio-bubble took place.

As per IPL's guidelines for Covid, any close contact with the infected person should isolate for six days and return after three negative tests on Day 1, 3 and 6. As per sources, there is no discussion on discontinuing IPL for now. However, the KKR team will get tested on daily basis for the next few weeks

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