Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
The absence of direct commercial flights between India and Sri Lanka because of the pandemic, however, forced the three to take a roundabout route back home, via Maldives. They first went to Male, the capital of Maldives, before arriving at their respective destinations in India after a stopover in Kochi.
While Pandya and Chahal travelled onwards to Mumbai, Gowtham landed in Bengaluru, where he spent a few hours at an isolation facility within the airport premises until his RT-PCR test results came out negative.
Pandya, Chahal and Gowtham spent the last nine days at a managed isolation facility in Colombo, finally returning a negative test before being allowed to board the flight. Their return came a week after the rest of India's 25-member contingent got back home in a chartered flight.
The first to contract the virus was Pandya, a day after the first T20I on July 27. As a precautionary measure, India isolated eight players they identified as his close contacts. This also forced the second T20I to be postponed by a day.
Chahal and Gowtham, who were part of this group of close contacts, and had initially tested negative, returned positive tests two days later. The situation, with that many players isolating, eventually forced India to bring their five reserve bowlers into the main squad, and hand T20I debuts to Chetan Sakariya, Devdutt Padikkal, Nitish Rana and Ruturaj Gaikwad in the second T20I and Sandeep Warrier in the last one.
All three of Pandya, Chahal and Gowtham are understood to have recovered as well as possible, and are expected to link up with their respective IPL squads in the third week of August for short camps ahead of their departure to the UAE for the second half of the postponed 2021 edition of the IPL.