A Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) official has said that inadequate practice ground facilities in Ahmedabad and Delhi led to the COVID-19 breach in the bio-bubbles of teams in IPL 2021.
The first 20 matches of the tournament were played in Chennai and Mumbai before the action shifted to the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad and the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi for the second phase.
A BCCI official in the know of things said that although the newly built stadium in Motera is top-notch, its practice facilities were still under development during the IPL. That prompted authorities to shift practice sessions for three teams to the Gujarat College ground, where they were probably exposed to COVID-19.
“There is a belief within many BCCI and state officials that the decision to take the second phase to Delhi and Ahmedabad was wrong. There were four teams in each city and except for the main ground, which is an international-level facility and hosted matches, the alternate facilities meant for practice were open to exposure to Covid-19,” the BCCI official told IANS.
The official continued:
“The problem with the newly-built Narendra Modi Stadium in Motera is that the adjoining grounds and facilities are still under construction. While it will be a state-of-the-art facility with multiple grounds, it is not yet complete. The teams can’t use the current practice nets, as it is not suitable for big hitting needed during T20 practice. It is okay for Test matches or first-class cricket practice. So, taking players to the Gujarat College ground was fraught with risk, as there are so many people like the maalis (gardeners), security guards and others. It was easy to get infected.”
As many as three teams, including the worst-affected Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), practised at the ill-fated college ground. Four KKR players – Varun Chakravarthy, Sandeep Warrier, Prasidh Krishna and Tim Seifert – later tested positive for COVID-19.
The Roshanara Club in Delhi is also not suited for IPL practice: BCCI official
The BCCI official also said that Delhi’s 90-year-old Roshanara Club was also not suitable for high-intensity practice. The source also noted that players practising there were likely exposed to many local staff, who were outside bio-bubbles.
“The Roshanara Club in Delhi is also a club which is not suited for practice for IPL franchises. Besides, you have local club staff that can easily infect the players or staff,” said the BCCI official.
The third phase of IPL 2021 was supposed to be held at Bengaluru’s Chinnaswamy Stadium and Kolkata’s Eden Gardens. But the tournament got indefinitely postponed after there were COVID-19 breaches in the bio-bubbles of multiple teams.