COLOMBO: The second T20 International between India and Sri Lanka here on Tuesday has been postponed by a day, after India’s crucial all-rounder Krunal Pandya tested positive for COVID-19, forcing him out of the series with seven days of isolation.
As per Sri Lanka’s health safety protocols, Krunal will not be able to travel back to India with other members of the contingent on July 30 as he will now have to undergo mandatory isolation and obtain a negative RT-PCR report. The third and final T20 is scheduled to be held on Thursday.
Sri Lanka will need a strong performance to get out of the current scenario. If India performs better than 1st T20I, this will be the Men in Blue’s fourth T20I series triumph over Sri Lanka also the series win this time. It will be their last chance to draw the series on 30th July or else India takes it away from them just like the ODI series. On the other hand, the hosts have never won a T20I series against India.
For now, the three-match series is on as even if there are a couple of more cases, the Indian team has enough players with negative RT-PCR reports to field a team. Krunal, who tested positive on Tuesday morning, has been quarantined and the entire contingent’s RT-PCR test reports are awaited.
“The second T20I between Sri Lanka and India originally scheduled to be played on July 27 has been pushed forward by a day and will now take place on Wednesday, July 28,” BCCI secretary Jay Shah said in a media statement.
“Following the Rapid Antigen Tests conducted ahead of the match on Tuesday morning, Krunal Pandya was found to be positive. The Medical Teams have identified eight members as close contacts,” the release added.
However, it has been learned from BCCI sources that all the members of the Indian contingent are currently in room isolation till they receive the negative RT-PCR report. The entire contingent has undergone RT-PCR tests on the day to ascertain any further outbreak in the squad.
“If everyone is in the clear, we can have the match on Wednesday. Maximum among the eight close contacts who are also in mandatory isolation are players,” a BCCI source added. “We are all in-room isolation till the test reports come,” a member of the Indian contingent in Colombo said.
India is traveling with a 20-member squad plus four stand bye net bowlers. The match was to be played at the R Premadasa Stadium here.
Now there will be back-to-back matches on Wednesday and Thursday provided there aren’t any more players testing positive to affect the balance of the sides which will lead to cancellation. India won the first T20 international by 38 runs and it is quite baffling as to how Krunal, who has been a part of the strict bio-bubble for the past month, contracted the virus.
While the series is being played behind closed doors, the biosecurity bubble breach at the Taj Samudra hotel in Colombo, where the Indian team is staying, could be a reason. One of the logistics staff (bus driver) or catering staff at the ground could also be a carrier.
The development is also likely to affect the travel plans of Prithvi Shaw and Suryakumar Yadav, who were due to join the Indian team in England after this series for an upcoming Test assignment against England next month. The duo was supposed to link up with the red ball squad in the UK after the completion of the T20 series and it is still not clear whether these two are among the eight, who were in close contact with Krunal.