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Cricket: IPL 2021 - COVID-19 STRIKES THE IPL

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Monday's IPL match between the Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challenges Bangalore in Ahmedabad has been rescheduled after the Knight Riders' mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy and seam bowler Sandeep Warrier tested positive for Covid-19.

This is the first instance of positive Covid-19 cases within the IPL bubble since the 2021 season started.

It is believed that Chakravarthy recently left the IPL's biosecure bubble through the official green channel to carry out a scan on his shoulder and that is where he might have been exposed. Barring Chakravarthy and Warrier, the rest of the the Knight Riders contingent's latest tests came out clear.

The IPL confirmed these developments with a statement that said: "Knight Riders have now moved towards a daily testing routine to identify any other possible cases", and that its "medical team is also determining the close and casual contacts of the two positive cases during the 48 hours" prior to testing. It is understood that the IPL has also asked the Knight Riders to strictly isolate in their hotel rooms for three days in Ahmedabad.

Under the IPL's "green channel" protocols, the player requiring treatment - usually scans - outside the bubble is taken in a vehicle (which is in the bubble with the driver) in PPE to the hospital. The treatment is administered by medical people with PPE and masks and the player returns in the same bubble vehicle in PPE.

This development comes almost a week after Hemang Amin, BCCI's interim chief executive officer, had reassured all teams that they were "totally safe" in the IPL bubble. The BCCI reassured all players and franchises that the 2021 IPL would carry on despite India being caught in the grip of a deadly second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Amin had also added that "to be extra vigilant" the IPL had "strengthened" the testing process, increasing its frequency from every five days initially to every two days in the second leg of the tournament, during which the teams shifted from Chennai and Mumbai to Ahmedabad and Delhi (matches began at these latter venues on April 26). On Monday, the IPL said, Chakravarthy and Warrier had been "found to be positive in the third round of testing in the last four days".

The Knight Riders are currently seventh on the points table, having won only two of their first seven matches. Their next match is scheduled for May 8, against the Delhi Capitals.

The Capitals were also their opponent when they last played, on April 29. The Capitals, who played the Punjab Kings on Sunday evening, were tested a day after that Knight Riders contest, with everyone coming out clear.

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Three members of the Chennai Super Kings' IPL contingent - chief executive officer K Viswanathan, bowling coach L Balaji and a bus cleaner - have tested positive for Covid-19. It is understood that the rest of the group, which is currently in Delhi, has tested negative. The results emerged after the latest round of testing on Sunday.

It is understood that Viswanathan, Balaji and the member of the maintenance staff took a fresh test on Monday morning to rule out the possibility of a false positive. If they test positive again, they would need to spend 10 days in a designated isolation facility outside the team bubble and return two negative tests before re-entering.

Balaji, the former India fast bowler, was in the team's dugout on Saturday, when the Super Kings lost a last-ball thriller to the Mumbai Indians. As things stand though, their next match, against the Rajasthan Royals in Delhi on May 5, is set to go ahead.

This follows the news that Monday's IPL game has been postponed after two Kolkata Knight Riders players tested positive.

An ECB spokesperson said the England board was monitoring the situation at the IPL, but the decision to continue to play or leave would be left to the players. "We continue to monitor and communicate with our players and staff currently in India," the spokesperson said. "In terms of continued participation, it will be a decision that will be taken by each individual." Among the 11 England players currently at the IPL, three belong to the two affected franchises: Moeen Ali and Sam Curran are with the Super Kings, and Eoin Morgan is with the Knight Riders.

This is the second time the Super Kings have had to deal with an outbreak in the team bubble. At IPL 2020, in the UAE, Viswanathan's wife had been one of several members - including players Deepak Chahar and Ruturaj Gaikwad - to test positive ahead of the tournament.

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Wriddhiman Saha has tested positive for Covid-19, meaning the Sunrisers Hyderabad have become the third franchise to register positive cases at IPL 2021. The team was due to play the Mumbai Indians in Delhi later today but the IPL has been suspended following an increase in Covid-19 cases across at least three franchises over the last few days.

Two players from the Kolkata Knight Riders - spinner Varun Chakravarthy and seam bowler Sandeep Warrier - and two members of the Chennai Super Kings contingent - bowling coach L Balaji and a member of the maintenance staff - have also tested positive over the past two days. Subsequently, yesterday's game between the Knight Riders and the Royal Challengers Bangalore was put off, and tomorrow's match between the Super Kings and the Rajasthan Royals is also postponed with the Super Kings in isolation for a week.

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