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COVID scare at IPL 2021: Natarajan tests positive 11 days after arrival, Vijay Shankar also in isolation

By Pti

Dubai, September 22: Sunrisers Hyderabad pacer T Natarajan tested positive for COVID-19 but the team's IPL match against Delhi Capitals on Wednesday (September 22) went ahead as scheduled after the remaining contingent was found to be negative.

Left-arm pacer Natarajan, who is coming back from a knee surgery, has been isolated along with six close contacts which also include out of favour India all-rounder Vijay Shankar.

"Sunrisers Hyderabad player T Natarajan tested positive for COVID-19 at a scheduled RT-PCR test. The player has isolated himself from the rest of the squad. He is currently asymptomatic," a BCCI release stated.

"The rest of the contingent including the close contacts underwent RT-PCR tests at 5AM local time this morning and the test reports are negative.

"As a result, tonight's game between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Delhi Capitals will go ahead at the Dubai International Stadium, Dubai," it further stated.

The close contacts identified by the medical team also include Vijay Kumar(Team Manager), Shyam Sundar J (Physiotherapist), Anjana Vannan (Doctor), Tushar Khedkar (Logistics Manager), and Periyasamy Ganesan (Net Bowler).

As per the IPL's Standard Operating Procedure, Natarajan will now have to isolate for 10 days and test negative twice before being allowed back into the bubble.

IPL 2021: Sunrisers pacer Natarajan Covid-19 positive, 6 members in isolation, match against DC to go aheadIPL 2021: Sunrisers pacer Natarajan Covid-19 positive, 6 members in isolation, match against DC to go ahead

A senior BCCI official tracking IPL developments, said that Sunrisers Hyderabad could have done better in terms of arranging their travel plans.

"It is a bit weird that Natarajan tested positive on the 11th day of his arrival from India. He has tested negative thrice as per protocols during the first five days. During the six-day quarantine, there was always the risk of one such case," he said on conditions of anonymity.

"That effectively means IPL's COVID protocol policy remains questionable. I don't think IPL's operations team should have allowed SRH to arrive that late. In case you are arriving late, then it should have been 14-day hard quarantine," he added.

The development is a major blow to SRH, who could not avail his services in the first leg due to injury.

The 30-year-old Natarajan has 20 IPL wickets from 24 matches that he has played.

The glitzy league resumed here on Sunday after it had to be halted in May due to multiple COVID cases in its bio-bubble when the event was being staged in India.

Even at that time, SRH was affected when senior wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha tested positive.

The league was suspended once his report came out, adding to the three cases that had been detected before that.

A league source told PTI that the organisers are no longer using a mobile app to track close contacts, which was a norm during the last edition in the UAE, and are relying on the afflicted person's inputs to monitor the spread.

"We don't know but that contact tracing app was a very good way to track bubble breaches, if any. I think this is a cost-cutting measure by the BCCI," the source said.

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Story first published: Wednesday, September 22, 2021, 20:58 [IST]
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