Devdutt Padikkal, who had tested positive for Covid-19 on March 22 and had been quarantining at home since then, has travelled to Chennai and linked up with the Royal Challengers Bangalore squad after returning "negative reports for Covid-19 as per the BCCI's protocols".
Padikkal, 20, joined the Royal Challengers' bubble on Wednesday after travelling by road from his home in Bengaluru. He then trained with the team on Wednesday evening, meaning he would have met all criteria required under the tournament's Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to be passed fit.*
The Royal Challengers said in a statement that the franchise's medical team was "in constant touch with Devdutt to ensure his safety and well-being".
In a video released by the team on Twitter, Padikkal said, "As per BCCI and IPL protocol, I had to quarantine at home for two weeks. Now I have joined the camp after two negative tests, and I am feeling completely fine now, and I just can't wait to get back out there and join the RCB camp."
Bold Diaries: Devdutt Padikkal joins the RCB camp after testing negative for COVID-19. He's healthy, feeling better and raring to go. Here's a message to all RCB fans from Devdutt.#PlayBold #WeAreChallengers #IPL2021 pic.twitter.com/BtVszNABJW— Royal Challengers Bangalore (@RCBTweets) April 7, 2021
ESPNcricinfo understands that all players who have tested positive need to get two clear tests in a row after quarantining for at least ten days, and then another test on arrival at the team hotel. They also need to clear some medical tests, like cardiac screening, and once those are completed, they can join the bubble directly. Since Padikkal attended training on Wednesday, it's understood that he has passed those tests.
The Royal Challengers' first game of IPL 2021 is the tournament opener against the Mumbai Indians in Chennai on April 9. Their second match is on April 14, against the Sunrisers Hyderabad, also in Chennai. Padikkal is likely to be available for selection for the first game itself.
According to the SOPs for the IPL, "Anyone testing positive for Covid-19 must isolate for a minimum of ten days and seek advice of local health authorities. During their ten-day isolation period, the individual must repeat the RT-PCR tests, at least 24 hours apart, on Day 9 and Day 10 from the day the first RT-PCR test was conducted. Provided the individual is without any symptoms associated with Covid-19 for more than 24 hours, has not taken any medications in the previous 24 hours and both results of RT-PCR tests taken on Day 9 and Day 10 are negative, they may be allowed to join their respective teams."
Padikkal was the leading run-scorer for the Royal Challengers in IPL 2020, his debut season, scoring 473 runs at an average of 31.53 and a strike rate of 124.80. Coming into this season, he had a stellar Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy too, tallying 218 runs in six innings at an average of 43.60 and a strike rate of 134.56.
Also on Wednesday, it emerged that Daniel Sams, the Royal Challengers' Australian allrounder, had tested positive for Covid-19. According to a statement tweeted by the Royal Challengers, Sams had returned a negative test upon his arrival in Chennai on April 3. A second test on April 7, however, returned a positive result, as a result of which he had to go into isolation at a designated medical facility.
Since Sams, who is asymptomatic, has been in quarantine since his arrival in India, he had not yet made contact with any other player or Royal Challengers staff member.
*1.45pm GMT, April 7: The article was updated once it was confirmed that Padikkal trained with RCB on Wednesday.