Covid-19: Punjab Kings and Delhi Capitals to face off in Mumbai instead of Pune
Capitals will have to clear RT-PCR testing on the morning of the game for the match to take place
Wednesday's match between Punjab Kings and Delhi Capitals will take place in Mumbai instead of Pune, subject to Capitals clearing RT-PCR testing on the morning of the game. In case the match cannot take place as scheduled on April 20, the IPL will reschedule it.
By late afternoon on Tuesday the prospect of the match taking place as scheduled brightened as Capitals were given permission to conduct a training session. The IPL, though, laid down the condition that only the players and the coaches would be allowed for the session which would be at the BKC ground on Tuesday evening.
ESPNcricinfo has learnt that the decision to change the match venue was taken by the IPL at a meeting on Tuesday, in the wake of several members of the Capitals' contingent testing positive for Covid-19. In a media release, the IPL said it has shifted Wednesday's match from the MCA stadium in Pune to the Brabourne stadium "to avoid any further incident due to any undetected case during a long-distance bus journey in a closed environment."
The IPL also said there were five confirmed Covid-19 cases in the Capitals contingent: Patrick Farhart (physiotherapist, tested positive on April 15), Chetan Kumar (massage therapist, tested positive on April 16), Mitchell Marsh (tested positive on April 18), Abhijit Salvi (team doctor, tested positive on April 18), and Akash Mane (social-media content team member, tested positive on April 18).
On Monday, Capitals issued a statement confirming Australia allrounder Marsh was hospitalised, after testing positive for Covid-19, while the rest of the cases were asymptomatic.
It is understood that Marsh was moved to hospital as a precautionary measure after he reported feeling unwell, including experiencing chills. The others who tested positive have been moved to a separate facility outside the team hotel because the hotel where the Capitals are staying had laid down the condition that anyone testing positive, including those that are asymptomatic, would need to move out of the premises.
The IPL became concerned as soon as Farhart became the first known Covid-positive case this season. Ahead of Capitals' clash against Royal Challengers Bangalore last Saturday, the IPL had asked both teams to not physically mingle after their match at the Wankhede Stadium. Both teams were seen waving at each other from a distance after the match, which Capitals lost. Doubts over Capitals' game against Kings grew as additional cases emerged and the Capitals' contingent was asked to isolate in their rooms on Monday.
Since April 16, the IPL said, all members in the Capitals' bubble have undergone four rounds of RT-PCR tests. In the latest round, conducted on Tuesday morning, all members outside of those that tested positive, had returned negative results. As per the protocol, all those that have tested positive will need to isolate for seven days and then return negative results on the last two days after which they would be able to rejoin the bubble.
While IPL has managed to create a Plan B for Wednesday's match, it will closely monitor the development, considering a Covid-19 outbreak had forced the suspension of the league at the halfway stage in 2021. Back then, there were multiple points within the IPL bubble that were identified to be vulnerable. This time, too, there were concerns around the bubble being breached, considering all teams, barring Mumbai Indians, are staying at hotels where other guests are allowed. While teams are staying on separate floors, where no one outside the bubble is allowed, players and support staff are allowed to use public spaces like the swimming pools within restricted timings.
GMT 1210 The piece was updated with news of Capitals getting permission to conduct a training session.
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo