IPL 2021 in jeopardy as players pulling out due to COVID-19 scare

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The current edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is in jeopardy of being halted as more players are pulling out due to COVID-19 scare. Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) said that Australian players Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson are returning home, while Delhi Capital’s (DC) R. Ashwin became the first Indian player to quit the IPL 2021 after the game against SRH to support his family.

Earlier, Rajasthan Royals (RR) Liam Livingstone returned to his home in England, citing “bubble fatigue”, while his teammate Andrew Tye became the second player to leave the tournament due to concerns about borders closing in Australia. A number of Australia’s top cricketers remain in India, including batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner, and paceman Pat Cummins.

Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers’ Association also issued a joint statement, saying that they are monitoring the situation. “Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association remain in regular contact with Australian players, coaches and commentators taking part in the Indian Premier League, which is being conducted under strict bio-security protocols,” the two bodies said.

Calls to cancel the IPL time table due to the ongoing crisis being faced by India have been circulating. It is learnt that India, including the IPL host cities, is nearly losing its battle against the sprea of the pandemic. There have been 300,000 new cases recorded every day – the most by any nation since the pandemic broke out in 2020 – which has led to crippling of healthcare services in the country.

Over the weekend, a leading Indian newspaper group suspended coverage of the IPL, calling the tournament “commercialism gone crass” and “incongruous” as the record-breaking surge in the country has been reported.  The New Indian Express, that the paper was halting reporting on the Twenty20 event until a “semblance of normalcy is restored”.

Meanwhile, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) revealed that the T20 tournament would continue despite the athlete’s withdrawals and calls to postpone the tournament. “So far, it’s going on as scheduled,” BCCI President Sourav Ganguly said in an interview. Speaking about the situation, a senior Board official said on conditions of anonymity said reiterated that the tournament is going ahead.

“As of now, IPL is going ahead. Obviously, if anyone wants to leave, that’s perfectly fine,” the official said. So far the IPL management has not given any official indication of cancelling the tournament, while some players have come out supporting the continuation of the game. The IPL final is scheduled to be held on May 30 in Ahmedabad.

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