Who Disrupted the 5th Test at the Old Trafford – Covid-19 fear or IPL?

The recent bilateral series between India and England has been stalled over a fear of the Covid-19 outbreak in the Indian camp after several members of the team caught the Covid-19 disease before the test was played. The declaration came just two hours before play as the deputy physio was reported to be Covid-19 positive the night before the match was played.

Earlier, the head coach Ravi Shastri, the bowling coach Bharat Arun and the fielding coach R Shridhar had contracted the virus. Many blame attending Ravi Shastri’s book launch in London before the 4th test as the main culprit behind breaching the bio-bubble. It was still bearable to the playing XI until both their physio turned out Covid-19 positive. The Indian players refused to take the field, although the players still tested negative, resulting in the match being rescheduled.

The England Cricket Board (ECB) refused to reschedule the match. The Indian cricket team has a tight schedule ahead, with the IPL starting 2 days after the conclusion of the scheduled 5th test. Hence postponing the match by 1-2 days was not possible. After the conclusion of the IPL, the T20 world cup is scheduled, making it impossible to be rescheduled anytime soon. ECB has made it clear that in no way can the rescheduling take place, and if the match does happen in the future, it will be a standalone test. ECB also concluded that India had forfeited the match, and hence England was declared winner of the match.

The IPL could have been played without a few Indian players at the start, but it is alleged that the absence of star players in the IPL would result in a sharp drop in popularity. Hence, BCCI is taking no chance to delay the IPL further or do away with a few star players. The second leg of IPL 2021 is scheduled to begin on 19th September in the UAE. As for how the India-England bilateral test series would conclude, the officials are yet to have an answer.

Written by – Himadri Paul

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