The grand homecoming of the cash-rich Indian Premier League is on the tenterhooks with COVID-19 cases spiking in India, especially in Maharashtra. (More Cricket News)
The BCCI, the owners of IPL, has not managed to escape the wrath of this deadly pandemic despite taking all the precautions and keeping teams in strict bio-bubbles.
READ: Full IPL Schedule
The IPL was moved to UAE last year and although some team members of Chennai Super Kings proved COVID positive, the almost four-month long event in three venues -- Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi -- was conducted without a single case of COVID infection.
That like cricket, COVID is a great leveller has been eloquently proved. A slew of celebrities, despite taking all precautions and following coronavirus protocols, have been hit by the pandemic is there is to see.
The cases started with batting legend Sachin Tendulkar testing positive. He was taking part in a legends tournament in Raipur. His Indian teammate Irfan Pathan also tested positive.
But COVID has taken a serious turn after the virus started breaching IPL team bubbles.
In Mumbai, COVID infiltrated the Delhi Capitals bio-bubble. Axar Patel was isolated after the all-rounder tested positive.
A clutch of Wankhede Stadium ground staff also tested positive. The iconic Mumbai stadium is slated to hold Chennai Super Kings vs Delhi Capitals IPL 2021 match on April 10.
As many as 10 Wankhede ground staff along with six event managers tested Positive on April 3. This was followed by two more positives reports among ground staff a day later taking the overall tally to 12.
At least 14 members of the Four Seasons hotel in Mumbai tested positive. They were part of the BCCI bubble hosting the TV personnel like cameramen and commentators associated with the IPL world feed production.
BCCI has steadfastly backed Mumbai as a venue with even Maharashtra government bending its rules to ensure that teams are able to practice beyond the curfew limits.
The first to test positive was Kolkata Knight Riders’ Nitish Rana, who subsequently tested negative and has since joined the team.
Mumbai is supposed to host matches from April 10 to 25. As of now, none of the teams currently in Mumbai -- Delhi Capitals, Mumbai Indians, Rajasthan Royals, Punjab Kings -- have access to Wankhede.
The teams have been training at Brabourne Stadium and Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) ground. Kolkata Knight Riders are also in Mumbai and are training in DY Patil before moving to Chennai for their matches.
While the focus was still on Mumbai, suddenly Chennai cropped on COVID radar with first Devdutt Padikkal and later Daniel Sams of Royal Challengers Bangalore testing positive. Padikkal has joined the team again after testing negative.
RCB are based in Chennai and play defending champions Mumbai Indians in season opener on April 9. Yesterday, Mumbai Indians wicketkeeping coach and former India player Kiran More also tested positive for COVID-19.
Recently, Pakistan Super League, Season 6, was postponed by the Pakistan Cricket Board in early March after just 10 of the 34 matches were completed following a rise in COVID-19 cases. Matches were scheduled in Karachi and Lahore.
List of players who have tested positive for COVID-19:
1) Nitish Rana, KKR
2) Devdutt Padikkal, RCB
3) Kiran More, MI
4) Daniel Sams, RCB,
5) Axar Patel, DC