COVID-19 India: Fan paints story of an IPL like no other | A look back at a timeline of IPL 2021, impacted by severe wave of COVID-19 in India
After 24 days and 29 matches played, the 14th edition of the Indian Premier League was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic cases in bio-bubble and the rising cases in India.
It is well-known that the situation here in India is really bad at the moment. However, it is also important to know that the situation wasn’t under control when the IPL started on April 9.
Mumbai was one of the two venues of the first leg of this season, and there were 100,000 cases every day when the tournament started. Concerns started to grow even more about whether playing cricket in such an environment is a safe proposition, and the situation kept getting worse with time. By the time the league was postponed, India was reporting more than 350,000 cases a day. The need for air travel from one venue to another in the second leg of the league worsened things even more, especially when you consider that Delhi, one of the worst-impacted regions in India, was to host matches.
This photo of Kane Williamson and David Warner said it all.
Players Started Leaving
On 26th April Royal Challengers, Bangalore’s official handle tweeted that Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson will be leaving the tournament due to “personal reasons”. Andrew Tye had flown back home to Australia a day before this due to “personal reasons” as well.
The constant rise in the covid cases in India despite the bio-bubble concerned them, which is understandable, and the possibility of the Australian government restricting flights from India, which eventually they did, was another area of concern for them. However, the tournament continued to go on, and the BCCI provided reassurance that the bubble was safe. However, even the most ardent of cricket fans were fearing that the bubble could be breached.
Later, Zampa in an interview stated that the bio-bubble of IPL 2021 was the most vulnerable out of all the bio-bubbles he was part of. He said that the bubble in IPL 2020 in UAE felt extremely safe. This statement started a lot of discussions that time but who would’ve thought that this will be the case in the coming days?
Situation Worsened at the IPL
On Monday, May 3rd, the bubble was breached. KKR players Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier tested positive for COVID-19, sending the BCCI and cricket fans into chaos. The KKR vs RCB game scheduled on that day was rescheduled, with the BCCI desperately turning to their pre-tournament SOPs to try and keep this tournament alive. On the same day, CSK’s bowling coach L Balaji and one of their staff members tested COVID positive but none of their players tested positive.
While the reason for Balaji and CSK’s staff member testing positive is unknown, it was reported that Varun Chakravarthy of KKR went for a shoulder scan on May 1st outside the bio-bubble and is suspected to have got infected during that time. He also sat for a meal with Sandeep Warrier who probably got infected during that time.
The next day on May 4th, DC’s Amit Mishra tested positive. He had met Warrier during the practice session when KKR’s and DC’s practice sessions were scheduled simultaneously at Ahmedabad. SRH wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha too tested positive on the same day and as a result, the tournament was indefinitely postponed.
Later CSK’s batting coach Michael Hussey tested positive. He now has been tested negative and CSK is looking after him. KKR’s Prasidh Krishna and Tim Seifert were reported to be tested covid positive on Saturday, May 8th. Australian players have been isolated in the Maldives awaiting the flight restriction uplift in Australia, and flights are set to resume to Australia from India after May 15. All the other overseas players will be safely dropped home by their respective franchises.
How it Should’ve Been Avoided
It’s clear that the situation is bad currently in India and it wasn’t a good idea to have organized the IPL here. Even beforehand, India’s population size and density makes the risk of a huge second wave all-the-more great. IPL 2020 went smoothly without any issues in the UAE and it would’ve been the best thing to have one more season of the Indian Premier League there, to be safe.
And if they were so determined to play the IPL in India they should’ve selected only one or maybe two venues, closer to each other, minimizing or even completely avoiding travelling during these times. Only one venue like Mumbai, Ahmedabad, or any other with strict bio-bubble restrictions would’ve been better than the current schedule where players needed to travel via air.
The BCCI is will lose Rs.2500 crores or $270 Million if the IPL is not completed. However, there is more to the situation than just money. Amid all this, all the safety of the players and everyone involved is most important, and postponing the league was the only logical decision.
The BCCI is looking for a window in September before the T20 World Cup to complete the remaining games of IPL 2021. There is a possibility that it can be shifted overseas like in 2020. County clubs in England have offered to host the IPL.
Whatever happens, the league should be completed in a safe environment as it is very important for many involved in it and it brings joy for us as viewers too during these tough times.
Thank you for reading and Stay Safe.