With Johannesburg, Pretoria among venues, concerns about India's tour of SA amid new COVID variant's rise
The India seniors, during a nearly seven-week assignment starting December 17, are scheduled to play three Tests, three ODIs and four T20 Internationals across four venues -- Johannesburg, Centurion, Paarl, and Cape Town.The cases are on the rise in the northern part of the country and at least two venues for the Test series -- Johannesburg and Pretoria near Centurion -- could become vulnerable to the spread of the new variant.Look, till we get a detailed picture of the ground situation from Cricket South Africa CSA, we will not be able to tell our next step.
The new COVID-19 variant, which threatens to wreak havoc in South Africa, has led to considerable concerns about India's tour of the Rainbow Nation next month even though the BCCI, for now, feels the series will go ahead as planned.
The ongoing India A tour of the country, featuring three unofficial Tests in Bloemfontein, could also be affected. The first game ended in a draw on Friday and the second game starts on November 29. The India seniors, during a nearly seven-week assignment starting December 17, are scheduled to play three Tests, three ODIs and four T20 Internationals across four venues -- Johannesburg, Centurion, Paarl, and Cape Town.
The cases are on the rise in the northern part of the country and at least two venues for the Test series -- Johannesburg and Pretoria (near Centurion) -- could become vulnerable to the spread of the new variant.
''Look, till we get a detailed picture of the ground situation from Cricket South Africa (CSA), we will not be able to tell our next step. As per the current plan, the Indian team is supposed to leave either on December 8 or 9 just after the New Zealand series gets over in Mumbai,'' a senior BCCI official told PTI on Friday.
As of now, the tour is on but it is understood that the BCCI, in the next few days, will be talking to Cricket South Africa on the detection of the new variant -- B.1.1.529 --, which has set alarm bells ringing across the globe.
Scientists believe that the high number of spike mutations could make the new variant more resistant to vaccines, make it more transmissible and cause an increase in the severity of COVID-19 symptoms.
On Friday, it was reported that the Netherlands have withdrawn from their ongoing tour of South Africa while the first ODI between the two sides was being played in Centurion, the venue for the other two matches as well.
Cricket South Africa said a decision would be made only in the next two days as flight options for the travellers have been affected by the travel bans that have come into the effect due to the new variant.
''Both boards can confirm that following updated information, it is highly unlikely that the visiting team will be able to fly out of South Africa over the weekend,'' it added.
The BCCI official indicated that even though players will be sent on a charter flight from Mumbai to Johannesburg, there is a possibility of putting them through three-four days of hard quarantine upon reaching given the changed circumstances, which the Board hoped won't deteriorate further.
''Initially, there was no provision for hard quarantine but obviously the players will remain in a bio-bubble. Now with cases rising in South Africa and European Union also cancelling flights temporarily, we need to factor in these aspects,'' a senior BCCI source said.
''We didn't undergo any hard quarantine on arrival over here since we came by charter flight and are staying in a bio-bubble. After the outbreak, a medical team from Cricket South Africa had a meeting with our representatives over here.
''We were told that there is nothing to worry since the spike in cases is far away from Bloemfontein where we would be playing our next match too,'' the official said over phone.
He also informed that as on Friday, the A team hasn't received any instruction from the BCCI.
Schedule 1st Test: Dec 17-21: Wanderers, Johannesburg 2nd Test: Dec 26-30: SuperSport Park, Centurion 3rd Test: Jan 3-7: Newlands, Cape Town 1st ODI: Jan 11: Boland Park, Paarl 2nd ODI: Jan 14: Newlands, Cape Town 3rd ODI: Jan 16: Newlands, Cape Town 1st T20I: Jan 19: Newlands, Cape Town 2nd T20I: Jan 21: Newlands, Cape Town 3rd T20I: Jan 23: Boland Park, Paarl 4th T20I: Jan 26: Boland Park, Paarl.
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