New Delhi: A current India and another India A cricketers are among multiple members of the Chennai Super Kings contingent who have tested positive for COVID-19, forcing the IPL franchise to extend its quarantine period in Dubai and causing upheaval ahead of the event starting on 19 September.
The franchise is yet to issue a formal statement but a league source told PTI that the number of positive cases could be between 10 and 12. On Saturday (29 August), that number went up with an India A cricketer testing positive, as per the news agency.
The player in question is a right-handed top-order batsman, who has been a part of India A teams in recent past and is a prolific performer in Ranji Trophy. On Friday, a T20 specialist pacer had tested positive along with 12 members of the contingent in Dubai.
"Yes, a right-arm medium fast bowler, who has recently played for India in white-ball cricket, along with a few staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. The number could be as high as 12," the senior IPL source said on conditions of anonymity.
The development has forced the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side to extend the quarantine period till 1 September.
While there is panic in the BCCI's rank and file after this but it is understood that for the time being, there is no imminent threat to the league, shifted out of India this year due to the pandemic.
"If there are 13 cases from only one franchise then it is an issue for sure for everyone. The biggest aspect will be whether foreign cricketers will now start being panicky as they are more touchy about these issues," an official said.
"We need to keep a tab on players' mental health," he added.
The source revealed that all COVID-19 positive results came during day 1, 3 and 6 of testing after the contingent's arrival in Dubai.
"As far as we know, one of the senior-most officials of the CSK management, an official's wife, and at least two members of their social media team are also COVID-19 positive," he said.
According to the BCCI's Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), all those who test positive are mandated to go through an additional seven-day quarantine.
They can enter the bio-secure bubble only after returning negative in tests to be conducted after the extended isolation.
It is understood that all the members of the jumbo contingent, who tested positive, are "largely asymptomatic".
The biggest challenge will be tracing those who came in contact with these contingent members as it is understood that most of them contracted the virus in Chennai, where the team had a short training camp before heading to Dubai.
"If you see, they all had tested negative for COVID during the two RT-PCR tests conducted in Chennai ahead of their departure. Had they been positive, they wouldn't have been able to board the flight in the first place," the league source stated.
It is understood those who have tested negative will be allowed to enter the bio-bubble. However, the IPL source believes that the likelihood of the team's camp starting on 1 September is slim.
"I don't think they can start the camp from September 1. It will take at least till 5 September before they can even think of resuming the camp," he said.
In the BCCI corridors, there was bewilderment over the team's decision to have a camp in Chennai before boarding the flight to Dubai. Tamil Nadu has recorded more than four lakh cases so far.
"CSK practised three days in Chennai out of the five days. Was there any tangible gain achieved from that camp?" a BCCI official said.
It remains to be seen what protocols will be followed for all those players who will be arriving late after the conclusion of the Caribbean Premier League and the England vs Australia limited-over series.
It couldn't be confirmed whether BCCI will be coming out with an official release on the issue confirming the name of the player and staff members.
Earlier, Rajasthan Royals' fielding coach Dishant Yagnik had returned positive in tests conducted in India.
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Gambhir, who flourished under Dhoni's captaincy in international cricket, pointed out his overall record as CSK skipper.
Srikkanth was referring to Dhoni's remark that the youngsters in the Chennai Super Kings squad did not show the spark needed to challenge the seniors and break into the playing XI.
The three-time IPL winners have struggled in all departments of the game, leading to heavy criticism towards skipper MS Dhoni for not showing enough faith in the youngsters.