A COVID-19 outbreak hit the Indian cricket team on Wednesday as three players — senior opener Shikhar Dhawan, reserve opener Ruturaj Gaikwad and middle-order batter Shreyas Iyer — tested positive for the virus along with four support staff during their mandatory isolation period before the start of West Indies series. The Indian team assembled in Ahmedabad on January 31 for the upcoming white-ball series against the West Indies and were going through a three-day isolation period post their break from the South Africa series. The series starts in Ahmedabad on February 6 with India’s 1000th ODI match but it is now a foregone conclusion that the trio will be missing the series as they will have to undergo a week-long isolation and then return with two negative RT-PCR tests.
“Three players — Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shreyas Iyer and Shikhar Dhawan have tested positive. However there are multiple COVID positive cases among non-coaching administrative support staff. It could be between two to four people,” a veteran BCCI official told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
“The players are largely asymptomatic and hopefully will be fine by the end of the isolation period. You feel bad for Shikhar as he might have to miss the series and he is not a part of T20 squad,” the official said.
Even more disappointing is young Ruturaj Gaikwad’s case as this is the second time in one and a half years that he has tested positive for COVID-19.
“If you remember, Ruturaj had tested positive in UAE during the 2020 IPL and went through hell. He had a 14-day quarantine back then and missed first part of the season in the Emirates. This is the second time he has tested positive,” the official said.
It is confirmed that captain Rohit Sharma, senior players like Virat Kohli and coach Rahul Dravid have all tested negative as of Wednesday.
“They have returned negative as of today.” All those who tested negative will complete their mandatory isolation on Thursday. They will enter the bubble, if they test negative again on Thursday.
“The testing protocol set by BCCI medical team is for every day RT-PCR as RAT (Rapid Antigen Test) is often not conclusive. Although teams are supplied with RAT kits in case any player shows symptoms and wants to do a self test,” the veteran official said.
It is expected that M Shahrukh Khan, R Sai Kishore, Rishi Dhawan, who are stand byes for the series, will now get a look-in to be in the squad.
As far as Rohit Sharma’s opening partner is concerned, Venkatesh Iyer, a specialist opener in the T20 squad, or Jharkhand’s Ishan Kishan could be tried out.
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