Delhi Capitals (DC) all-rounder, Axar Patel has become the latest cricketer to have tested positive for Coronavirus, with less than a week to go for the IPL to begin. Patel is just the latest concern in the bigger conundrum that the tournament is facing at the moment, with challenges emerging on various fronts.
Not long after it emerged that KKR batsman Nitish Rana had tested positive, reports came to light that eight ground staff members at the Wankhede Stadium had also tested positive. Times of India reported that seven members from BCCI's IPL organizing team were later put into isolation after returning a positive report. The state of Maharashtra recorded 43,183 on Friday (April 2) - its highest single-day rise - and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray even warned that the possibility of lockdown can not be ruled out.
Even though former BCCI president Sharad Pawar - a stakeholder in the Maharashtra government has assured of all the help to the BCCI for the smooth conduct of the game in the capital city, things are pretty bleak at the moment, with no one allowed on the streets after 7 PM.
“Today, I am warning about complete lockdown but not announcing it. I will speak to experts and political leaders in the next two days. If there is no other option to a lockdown, we will have to accept it,” Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, on Friday, said in a press conference.
The other city for the first leg of the tournament - Chennai - has no better situation either. Assembly Elections have kept everyone distracted but the rising cases forced the state government to announce a fresh lockdown, albeit restrictive, till April 30. On Friday, a total of 3,290 people tested positive for COVID-19 and if proper protocols are not maintained, the numbers may spiral upwards, leaving many to wonder if the tournament can proceed without a glitch even as cases mount.
For now, it appears to be a case of wait and watch. While reports suggest that Hyderabad is being prepared as an alternative venue if matches can't be held in Mumbai, that presents its own logistical challenges. Quite clearly, the BCCI and their logistics management team will be on their toes over the next few days to keep Brand IPL safe from the deadly virus.