India captain Virat Kohli on Thursday said he expects to get ‘absolute clarity’ regarding the upcoming tour of South Africa in the next couple of days following the emergence of the Omicron coronavirus variant.
Kohli added head coach Rahul Dravid has initiated a conversation within the group and is also keeping the players abreast about what’s happening at the administrative level.
The returning Indian captain was addressing the media on the eve of the second and final Test against New Zealand in Mumbai from Friday.
“You want to seek clarity as soon as possible, so we have spoken to all the senior members of the squad. Obviously Rahul bhai (Dravid) has initiated a conversation within the group, which is very important to know,” Kohli said when asked about his and the team’s view on the tour.
“At the end of the day, we understand, I mean our focus from the Test match will not shift regardless, but also know that you would want to have clarity and you want to be in a situation where you know exactly what’s going on.”
There were talks about the tour being pushed back or the schedule curtailed while South Africa have maintained that India’s visit is on. Kohli said that in another two days, everything will be clear.
“We have been talking to the board and we are pretty confident within a day or two or pretty soon, we will have absolute clarity as to what is going on,” he said.
The skipper made it clear that these are not normal times and any decision taken should factor in that aspect.
“Well, look it’s pretty natural, I mean, we are not playing in normal times anyways, so there is a lot of planning that’s involved, there is a lot of preparation that is involved in terms of understanding exactly what’s going to go on,” he said.
South Africa has been hit by travel bans following its discovery of omicron variant even though an India A team is currently playing a three-game first-class series in Bloemfontein. The World Health Organization on Sunday criticised countries for introducing travel restrictions on account of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 and called for borders to remain open. At least 23 countries around the world have reported cases of Omicron, and that number is likely to increase as more samples are tested, the WHO said at a press conference on Wednesday. Hours later, Health officials in California confirmed the first known case of the Omicron variant in the United States, Reuters reported.
South African officials have promised a secure bio bubble for the Indians when they land there.
“We need to be realistic about things as well, we cannot just ignore the things that potentially could put you in a confusing place and no one wants to be there,” Kohli aded.
The India seniors, during a nearly seven-week assignment starting December 17, are scheduled to play three Tests, three ODIs and four T20 Internationals across four venues — Johannesburg, Centurion, Paarl, and Cape Town. The Indian team’s bio-bubble will start in Mumbai and players like Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah are all set to enter it in a day or two before the scheduled departure on December 8.
“....I am sure everyone’s working hard towards finding clarity and giving us the situation as it unfolds as soon as possible...as I said our prime focus right now is the second Test and the other things are simultaneously being taken care of,” he added.
Earlier this year, India had pulled out of a Test match against England in Manchester owing to a COVID-19 outbreak within their camp. The match was eventually rescheduled to next year.
With PTI inputs
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