The Indian cricket team had anxious moments at the start of Day 4 in the Oval Test on Sunday. There were even doubts whether the Test could continue after head coach Ravi Shastri’s Covid positive result, confirmed by a lateral flow test done the previous evening.
The match could only go ahead after all squad members returned negative following a second lateral flow test on Sunday morning, according to information in a BCCI statement. The players went one such test on Saturday evening as well, after Shastri’s positive result.
Bowling coach Bharat Arun, fielding coach R Sridhar and physio Nitin Patel, deemed as close contacts, remained isolated in the team hotel as a precautionary measure. Batting coach Vikram Rathour was the only coach present in the Oval dressing room on Sunday. Yogesh Parmar is the other physio.
Shastri and these three support staff members may have to miss the rest of the tour if their RT–PCR results return positive. “They have undergone RT-PCR testing and shall remain in the team hotel and not travel with Team India until confirmation from the medical team,” BCCI secretary Jay Shah said in the statement.
The final Test begins at Old Trafford, Manchester on September 10. As per the Covid regulations in place for the series, any member returning positive has to remain isolated for 10 days and can move out only after two negative test results on day 9 and 10.
WHY INDIA COULD CONTINUE PLAYING
Shastri, Arun and Sridhar were all part of the dressing room on Saturday. Patel even attended to Cheteshwar Pujara during play on Saturday after he twisted his ankle. The players and other members of the contingent were allowed to go to the ground as none was deemed a close contact of Shastri.
As per UK government guidelines for a person not living with a Covid-positive individual, a person is considered a close contact “if he has been within 2 meters of someone who has tested positive for COVID–19 for more than 15 minutes (either as a one-off contact or added up together over one day) or if he may have travelled in the same vehicle.”
This series is being played with relatively relaxed guidelines for Covid after the UK government eased all social distancing norms for the public in July. No bio-secure bubbles have been created for either side and players have been allowed to even go to restaurants where staff has had double vaccinations.
The Indian team had attended Shastri’s book launch function before the Oval Test where outsiders were allowed to mingle freely with the side.
In July before the UK government eased Covid restrictions, England had to name an entirely new team after the entire side was forced to self-isolate two days before the start of the ODI series against Pakistan, following seven positive Covid tests among the team’s players and management.
This is the second instance where Covid has struck the Indian team on this tour. Rishabh Pant tested positive in July during the vacation break after the World Test Championship final. Wriddhiman Saha, Abhimanyu Easwaran, Arun and a throw down expert had to isolate for 10 days as close contacts.