After 25 days of escaping the inevitable, the COVID situation in IPL went to a point of no return on May 4 as the BCCI decided to pull the plug on the tournament indefinitely. We look at every single COVID-related event in the tournament that will now forever be remembered for the wrong reasons.
March 30 - India reports 56,211 fresh COVID-19 cases and 271 deaths in the last 24 hours. As the pace of the second wave of the pandemic is starting to pick up, players from all round the world start arriving in Mumbai and Chennai to partake in the 2021 edition of the Indian Premier League.
April 1 - The first COVID case emerges. Kolkata Knight Riders confirm that one of their players, Nitish Rana, had tested positive for the virus upon arrival. The franchise, however, clarify that Rana tested positive a week ago and is now cleared to train after returning two negative results.
April 2 - Maharashtra records 47,827 new COVID-19 cases, the highest daily count since the coronavirus pandemic began. In more worrying news, over half-a-dozen ground staff at the Wankhede, the venue for the first leg of IPL 2021, test positive for the virus.
April 3 - Delhi Capitals’ Axar Patel becomes the second player to test positive for the virus. Axar, like Rana, ends up testing positive upon arrival and the Capitals confirm in a release that the left-armer will be taken care of in a ‘'Medical Care Facility'.
April 4 - Mumbai reports over 11,000 COVID-19 cases, the highest one-day surge since the pandemic began in 2020. Cries to move the first leg of IPL 2021 out of Mumbai get louder, and BCCI sources reveal that the board have kept Indore and Hyderabad as the two standby venues.
April 4 - On the same day, a third player, Devdutt Padikkal, is confirmed to have tested positive for the virus. Like in the case of Rana, though, RCB confirm that Padikkal had tested positive over 10 days ago. The franchise confirm that the 20-year-old had quarantined himself at home.
April 5 - Maharashtra reports 51,751 new COVID-19 cases and is the biggest COVID hotspot in the entire country, but members of the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) assert with confidence that Mumbai will host all scheduled games without enduring any roadblocks. MCA confirms that the ground staff who had tested positive were sent home, and claim that those who tested negative will be hosted in a bubble at the Wankhede.
April 6 - Mumbai Indians’ talent scout Kiran More tests positive, three days before the commencement of the tournament. This is seen by many as a worrying development as More tested positive after entering the Mumbai Indians bubble. The former wicket-keeper was seen mingling with several players during training in the preceding days.
April 7 - Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Daniel Sams tests positive upon arrival. On the same day, Devdutt Padikkal ends up re-joining the RCB camp after fully recovering from the virus and returning multiple negative results.
April 9 - Franchises express discontent over Padikkal’s direct re-entry into the RCB camp. Padikkal, after quarantining at home, joined the RCB camp after traveling via road, but several franchises noted how that was unsafe, and argued that Padikkal should have been asked to quarantine at a hotel after he returned from his home.
April 9, 7.30 PM - The 2021 edition of the IPL kicks off in Chennai. Franchises have no travel for the next 15 days and will continue to play in the city they are currently in. (RCB, MI, SRH and KKR in Chennai and DC, PBKS, RR and CSK in Mumbai).
April 19 - The IPL is running smoothly but the second wave is starting to ravage the country. India records 2,73,810 cases in a single day and this leads to the United Kingdom putting the country in the ‘red-list’.
April 20 - Rajasthan Royals’ Liam Livingstone becomes the first player to voluntarily pull out of IPL 2021 mid-way through the tournament. Livingstone cites bubble fatigue and Rajasthan allow the Englishman to fly back to the UK.
April 25 - India is in the midst of a full-blown COVID crisis. The country registers 3,49,691 cases in a single day but, more worryingly, several hospitals start running out of Oxygen and ICU beds, including in the national capital.
April 25, 5:00 PM - Australia and RR’s Andrew Tye becomes the second player to pull out of IPL 2021. Tye cites COVID scare as the reason, and claims that, to him, it felt morally wrong to host the IPL in a country where people were dying on the streets.
April 26 - Teams have now moved out of Mumbai and Chennai and are currently in Ahmedabad and Delhi, where the second leg of the tournament is scheduled to be played. The two places, though, are in the midst of an unforeseen COVID crisis, combinedly having close to 2 lakh active cases.
April 26, 1.15 AM - Delhi Capitals’ Ravichandran Ashwin leaves IPL 2021 to attend to his family. Ashwin announces that he is taking an indefinite break and says that he wishes to be with his family and help them out in their fight against the deadly virus.
April 26, 10:30 AM - Two more Australians, RCB’s Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson, pull out due to the worsening Covid situation in the country. Zampa later goes on to describe the IPL 2021 bubble as the “most vulnerable”, and comments that he would have preferred for the organizers to host the tournament in UAE. Along with the two, it is also revealed that umpire Nitin Menon has left the tournament due to personal reasons.
April 27 - Australia bans all passenger flights from India till May 15. The travel ban deters the plans of umpire Paul Reiffel, who, like Richardson, Zampa and Tye, had planned to head back home. The travel ban forces Reiffel to stay back in India and officiate in the rest of the tournament. Meanwhile, Chris Lynn reaches out to Cricket Australia (CA) asking the board to arrange Chartered Flights for the players to get back home safely.
April 29 - The COVID crisis in the country is deepening. India registers 3,79,257 fresh cases and calls for IPL to be shut down have increased. Accused of being ‘tone-deaf’, the host broadcasters, Star Sports, ramp up COVID coverage within matches and have commentators and players spread awareness through videos.
April 30, May 1 and May 2 - The show goes on, and franchises and players come to the aid of the country, but the crisis is still worsening. April 30 sees India register 4,08,323 new cases, while May 1 and May 2 sees the country, again, record close to 4 lakh cases.
May 3, 12:00 PM - After a week of operations running smoothly in Ahmedabad and Delhi, all hell breaks loose. Two KKR players - Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier - test positive for the virus, due to which the May 3rd game between KKR and RCB in Ahmedabad stands postponed. Chakravarthy, it is believed, contracted the virus whilst going for a scan, and the positive report forces the entire Kolkata team to go into a hard quarantine.
May 3, 2:45 PM - More trouble as three non-playing Chennai Super Kings members test positive for the virus. The trio return negative results in rapid antigen tests, but later, in the second RT-PCR test, it is confirmed that bowling coach L Balaji and a bus helper are Covid positive. Given Balaji was in the dugout for CSK’s game against Mumbai Indians, doubts are raised over MI’s participation in the game against SRH on Tuesday, May 4.
May 3, 4:00 PM - Reports emerge claiming that a handful of ground staff at the Arun Jaitley Stadium, who were on duty for the RR vs SRH game on Sunday, have tested positive for the virus. This is, however, denied by DDCA head Rohan Jaitley, who rubbishes the "rumours".
May 3, 9:00 PM - It is reported that the entire Delhi Capitals contingent have been asked to isolate. DC played Varun Chakravarthy’s KKR on April 29, and the players have hence been asked to isolate as precaution.
May 4, 8.30 AM - BCCI officials reassure that the MI vs SRH game will go ahead as scheduled, but confirm that the RR vs CSK game (May 5) will be rescheduled due to CSK going into a hard quarantine. Meanwhile, reports emerge claiming that the BCCI is looking to move the rest of the IPL 2021 to Mumbai (and Pune) in order to eliminate air travel.
May 4, 12:40 PM - News breaks out that Sunrisers Hyderabad’s Wriddhiman Saha has tested positive for COVID-19. 10 minutes later, it is confirmed that Delhi’s Amit Mishra has also tested positive for the virus. The positive tests rule out the possibility of SRH vs MI going ahead as scheduled.
May 4, 1:03 PM - BCCI vice-president Rajeev Shukla confirms that IPL 2021 has been temporarily suspended owing to the COVID outbreak.
May 4, 1:30 PM - The BCCI confirm that the 2021 edition of the IPL has been indefinitely postponed. The board confirm that there won’t be an immediate restart, and reveal that players will be allowed to go back to their families.