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Covid hits India team ahead of Windies series; Dhawan, others test positive
- Updated: February 3, 2022
A COVID-19 outbreak hit the Indian cricket team on Wednesday as three main players — senior opener Shikhar Dhawan, reserve opener Ruturaj Gaikwad and middle-order batter Shreyas Iyer — tested positive for the virus during their mandatory isolation period before the start of West Indies series.
Four other persons, including net bowler Navdeep Saini, have also tested positive for COVID-19. Saini is also on standby list.
The remaining three who tested positive for the virus are non-playing members — fielding coach T Dilip, security liaison officer B Lokesh and masseur Rajeev Kumar.
“The All-India Senior Selection Committee has added Mayank Agarwal to India’s ODI squad after seven members, including three players of Team India (Senior Men) tested positive for COVID-19 following three rounds of RT-PCR testing,” BCCI secretary Jay Shah said in a statement.
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.
Shah gave a lowdown of the sequence of positive cases in the India camp.
“Opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan and fast bowler Navdeep Saini’s (standby player) RT-PCR tests conducted on Monday (January 31st) have returned positive results,’ Shah stated in the release.
“Fielding Coach T. Dilip and Security Liaison Officer B. Lokesh’s RT-PCR tests conducted on Monday (January 31st) have returned positive results. Batsman Ruturaj Gaikwad’s RT-PCR test conducted on Tuesday (February 1st) has returned a positive result. He had tested negative during the first round of testing on Monday,” the release further stated.
“Batsman Shreyas Iyer and Sports Massage Therapist Rajeev Kumar’s RT-PCR tests conducted on Wednesday (February 2nd) have returned positive results. Both had tested negative in the first two rounds of testing.”
The BCCI medical team is handling the positive cases and the infected persons will remain in isolation till complete recovery is attained.
“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,” an 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 added.
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 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, Mayank’s inclusion makes it clear that team management is not looking at Ishan Kishan or Venkatesh Iyer for the slot.
It must be noted that all the players had tested negative in RT-PCR when they embarked on their journey to Ahmedabad from their respective cities.
“The members were asked to report in Ahmedabad on 31st January 2022 for the upcoming three-match ODI and T20I series against West Indies. Every member was also asked to undergo an RT-PCR test at home before embarking on their journey to Ahmedabad and the travel was undertaken only after testing negative,” the BCCI said.