Sunrisers Hyderabad pacer T Natarajan has tested positive for Covid-19 but the team’s Indian Premier League match against Delhi Capitals on Wednesday will go ahead as scheduled, the Board of Control for Cricket in India said.
The pacer, who is coming back from a knee surgery, is said to be asymptomatic and has been isolated along with six close contacts which also includes India all-rounder Vijay Shankar. But the rest of players have tested negative, as per the media release.
“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. The development is a blow to SRH, who are in must-win territory for the rest of the tournament. Natarajan has 20 IPL wickets from 24 matches that he has played. He had played only a couple of matches in the first leg of the tournament, before withdrawing due to his injury.
The IPL resumed in United Arab Emirates on Sunday after it had to be suspended in May due to multiple coronavirus cases in its bio-bubble when the event was being staged in India.
Teams returning to the event in the UAE have been put in strict bio bubbles.
Limited spectators have been allowed at the three UAE venues including Abu Dhabi and Sharjah for the first time in two years since the pandemic hit the globe.
Natarajan, 30, had only recently returned from an injury suffered during India’s tour of Australia in January. But his absence is a big blow for bottom-placed Hyderabad.
The team, led by New Zealand’s Kane Williamson, but already missing England star Jonny Bairstow, must win their remaining matches to hope to get a play-off place.
Bairstow was one of the many England and international stars including Ben Stokes and Pat Cummins of Australia to pull out of the pandemic-hit league.
Bairstow, who has been replaced by West Indies batsman Shane Rutherford, was the leading run-scorer in the first half of the season with 248 runs including two half-centuries in seven matches.
Australia’s David Warner, who was stripped of Hyderabad’s captaincy midway through the season, and dropped at one stage, is expected to make a full return.
Foreign players fled India after the Covid-19 surge disrupted the first half of the tournament and many are not coming back.
The UAE leg of the IPL began with Chennai Super Kings defeating holders Mumbai Indians in the first match to push Delhi from the top of the table.
The T20 league will conclude on October 15 two days before the start of the T20 World Cup in the UAE and Oman.
With PTI and AFP Inputs