The 2021 edition of the Indian Premier League was halted owing to a Covid outbreak, and reports have now emerged claiming that the players might have potentially caught the virus at training sessions. In both Delhi and Ahmedabad, teams practised at non-secure grounds, away from the main stadium.
Kolkata Knight Riders’ Varun Chakravarthy testing positive created a furore, and the blame was put on the callousness of the franchise as it was believed that the player caught the virus during a scan. However, members from two other franchises - CSK and SRH - also testing positive vindicated KKR, and made many wonder how the bubble was breached. There has been no official investigation into the matter, but reports have emerged claiming that the bubble could potentially have been breached at training facilities.
In both Delhi and Ahmedabad - where Covid-19 cases were spiralling out of control - players were asked to practice in grounds far away from the main venue. In Ahmedabad, the players practised at the Gujarat College ground while in Delhi, it was the Roshanara Club that oversaw the teams’ training sessions. An insider has now told IANS that the practice venues were not secure, and hence could very well have caused the outbreak which led to the tournament getting halted.
"There is a belief within many Board of Control for Cricket of India (BCCI) and state officials that the decision to take the second phase to Delhi and Ahmedabad was wrong. There were four teams in each city and except for the main ground, which is an international-level facility and hosted matches, the alternate facilities meant for practice were open to exposure to Covid-19," an official in the know of things told IANS.
"The Roshanara Club in Delhi is also a club which is not suited for practice for IPL franchise. Besides, you have local staff that can easily infect the players or staff," said the official.
It is believed that the players had no option but to train outside the Narendra Modi Stadium as the venue was unfit for T20 practice. Adjoining grounds and facilities being under construction are believed to have rendered the venue unfit for ‘big-hitting practice’, and hence the players are said to have been taken to the Gujarat cricket ground.
"The problem with the newly-built Narendra Modi Stadium in Motera is that the adjoining grounds and facilities are still under construction. While it will be a state-of-the-art facility with multiple grounds, it is not yet completed. The teams can't use the current practice nets as it is not suitable for big hitting needed during T20 practice. It is okay for Test matches or first-class cricket practice.
"So, taking players to Gujarat College ground was fraught with risk as there are so many people like the maalis (gardeners), security guard and others. It was easy to get infected," the official said.
An uncontrollable rise in COVID cases led the BCCI to indefinitely postpone the 2021 edition of the IPL.