The Kolkata Knight Riders' Australian fast bowler Pat Cummins has donated US$ 50,000 "specifically to purchase oxygen supplies for India's hospitals" to PM Cares**, a fund-raising scheme set up by the prime minister of India in March last year when the Covid-19 pandemic first broke out. Cummins - the first cricketer playing in this year's IPL to publicly announce such a contribution - put out a note on Twitter, also calling on his fellow IPL players to contribute.

"There has been quite a bit of discussion over here as to whether it is appropriate for the IPL to continue while COVID-19 infection rates remain high," Cummins wrote. "I'm advised that the Indian Government is of the view that playing the IPL while the population is in lockdown provides a few hours of joy and respite each day at an otherwise difficult time for the country.

"As players, we are privileged to have a platform that allows us to reach millions of people that we can use for good. With that in mind, I have made a contribution to the 'PM Cares Fund,' specifically to purchase oxygen supplies for India's hospitals."

Eoin Morgan welcomed his team-mate's generosity after Kolkata Knight Riders beat Punjab Kings on Monday night. "We are constantly talking about the situation that's unfolding outside of our bubble. It's not nice to be honest watching from afar, considering how lucky we are to be in a bubble and not be affected by it very much. We obviously lend our support and heartfelt attitude to everybody who is ill or is going through tough times.

"In the UK, last year, we went through severe lockdown for prolonged periods of time and it looked for a long time cricket wasn't gonna be played in our summer. But coming together and working together with the guidance of the government, the cricket board and everybody at home helped change that. So the level of understanding is that we fight this together no matter where in the world you are."

Cummins, who was signed for a record INR 15.5 crore (US$ 2 million approx.) last season, is part of a diminishing pool of Australian cricketers at the IPL. His compatriots Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson of the Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Rajasthan Royals' Andrew Tye have all pulled out over the past two days, while England's Liam Livingstone had done the same last week. While Livingstone had spoken of "bubble fatigue" for his decision to leave, the Royal Challengers put Zampa and Richardson's departure down to "personal reasons", while Tye has said that he wanted to avoid the risk of not being able to return home.

On Sunday night, R Ashwin, a Delhi Capitals' player in the IPL, also pulled out at the end of his team's match against the Sunrisers Hyderabad saying that he wanted to be with his family as they fought the pandemic.

Cummins, in his note, urged other cricketers to try and make a difference too.

"I encourage my fellow IPL players - and anyone around else the world who has been touched by India's passion and generosity - to contribute. I will kick it off with $50,000," he wrote. "At times like this it is easy to feel helpless. I've certainly felt that of late. But I hope by making this public appeal we can all channel our emotions into action that will bring light into people's lives.I know my donation isn't much in the grand scheme of things, but I hope it will make a difference to someone."

Brett Lee donates 1 bitcoin towards Covid-19 relief work
On Tuesday, Brett Lee, in India as part of the IPL 2021 commentators' panel, took a leaf out of Cummins' book and made a donation of one bitcoin (US$ 55,000 approx.) towards India's fight against the pandemic.*

"It saddens me deeply to see people suffering due to the ongoing pandemic. I feel privileged to be in a position of making a difference and with that in mind, I'd like to donate 1 BTC (Bitcoin) to Crypto Relief to help with the purchase of oxygen supplies for the hospitals across India," Lee posted on Twitter. "India has always been like a second home for me. The love and affection that I have got from the people of this country both during my professional career and even after my retirement, holds a special place in my heart.

"Now is the time to be united and ensure we do as much as we can to help the ones in need. I'd also want to thank all the frontline workers who have been working round the clock during these tough times. I request people to please take care, stay at home, wash your hands and head out only if absolutely necessary, wear a mask and maintain social distancing. Well done Pat Cummins for the initiative yesterday."

India is currently battling a vicious wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, and has steadily been clocking over 300,000 new cases a day over the last week - the most by any nation since the pandemic broke out last year. The country's fragile healthcare system is struggling to cope, and appeals for beds, drugs, vaccines, and oxygen have dominated Indian social media spaces since the start of April. Since the IPL began on April 9, there have been over 25,000 deaths.

*1415 GMT, April 26: The story was updated with details of Brett Lee's donation
**1050 GMT, May 3: Cummins put out a tweet that he had eventually ended up donating to a UNICEF Fund

Varun Shetty is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo