How the Indian Premier League bubble burst — and what’s next

The 2021 edition, beset by COVID fears on Monday, was postponed indefinitely after more positive tests on Tuesday

May 04, 2021 11:13 pm | Updated May 05, 2021 09:19 pm IST - MUMBAI

Wriddhiman Saha of Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Wriddhiman Saha of Sunrisers Hyderabad.

With the COVID-19 virus being detected in four biosecure IPL bubbles, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had no option but to indefinitely postpone the 2021 edition of the T20 league on Tuesday.

“These are difficult times, especially in India and while we have tried to bring in some positivity and cheer, it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone goes back to their families and loved ones in these trying times,” read a statement issued by IPL on Tuesday morning.

Severe warning

Monday had served a severe warning. The match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore was called off after two KKR players — Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier — tested positive for COVID-19. In addition, at least two members of the Chennai Super Kings entourage, including bowling coach L. Balaji, were confirmed to have contracted the virus.

The final straw, however, was when Sunrisers Hyderabad wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha and Delhi Capitals leg-spinner Amit Mishra were diagnosed COVID-19 positive on Tuesday. It meant every member of four of the eight participating franchises had to serve at least a six-day isolation period.

As a result, an emergent meeting of the IPL governing council and the BCCI office-bearers, which had until a few hours earlier hoped to discuss the modalities of shifting the remaining IPL games to Mumbai, had to make the inevitable decision to suspend the edition.

Safe passage

While IPL executives were trying their best to ensure a “safe passage” for Indian cricketers in the other four teams, BCCI office-bearers were “hoping” to create a window for the IPL. The most plausible window appears to be the period after the T20 World Cup, scheduled in October-November, provided English and Australian cricketers are available ahead of the Ashes at the end of the year.

“We just hope that somehow the IPL season resumes at some point later this year. Yes, availability of window is a huge factor but from everyone’s perspective — the players, managements and fans — it will be unfair if IPL 2021 has to be abandoned without seeing a winner,” said a franchise executive, on condition of anonymity.

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