Team India’s tour of South Africa is off the ground, despite the ever-worsening Covid-19 crisis enveloping large parts of the country and beyond.
Virat Kholi and his team boarded a plane bound for Johannesburg on Thursday morning – his side are set to play three test matches and three One Day Internationals.
Authorities are revising the bubble-bio regulations, which were originally going to allow for a more relaxed approach to the series. The surge in cases of the infectious new Omicron variant cut short the Netherlands tour of South Africa just a few weeks ago.
The Cricket South Africa (CSA) organisation confirmed:
“Immediate contacts of anyone testing positive for Covid-19 in the bubble during the South Africa-India series will not need to isolate and leave the bubble, rather will be allowed to quarantine in the hotel room as long as they are clinically stable.”
CSA’s chief medical officer Shuaib Manjra added:
“Whilst at the end of the third wave we considered moving from a strict BSE to a managed environment, the Omicron variant and high levels of community transmission have forced a strict BSE.”
Team India in Turbulence Before Plane is in the Air
A cloud is hanging over the squad due to some tetchy back-and-forth between Kholi and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
The day before flying, Kholi denied being asked to reconsider his decision to quit the Twenty20 international captaincy by the BCCI, despite president Sourav Ganguly suggesting otherwise.
That denial came hot on the tail of having his ODI captaincy removed earlier in the month. Kholi revealed at the pre-tour press conference that he had been told of his removal as ODI captain just 90 minutes before the squad was announced.
His comments will add a further sense of unease around the camp at the moment – particularly off the back of such a bad showing at the Twenty20 World Cup.
Virat and Rohit Still Friends
Kholi is the stand-in skipper for the ODI segment of the South Africa tour, with new limited-overs captain Rohit Sharma unavailable through injury.
Despite recent drama surrounding the captaincy, Kholi insists he still has a good relationship with Sharma and thinks his team will keenly feel the absence of the explosive bladesman:
“Will miss his abilities a lot. He’s proven in England already that he’s really worked his Test game out, and the opening partnership was very important for us to play in that series. Obviously, with his experience and skill, we will miss those qualities.”
The Full India Squad for the South Africa Test Series:
Virat Kohli (Captain), Priyank Panchal, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Jayant Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Mohd. Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj.