Virus infiltrates Sri Lanka camp, India series postponed

An SLC functionary informed that the board has asked the selectors to arrange back-up squads as a contingency.

A Covid outbreak in the Lankan camp has forced the postponement of the upcoming India-Sri Lanka limited overs series. Instead of July 13, the ODI series is now likely to commence on July 17, while the final T20I is on July 27 after the rescheduling. The push-back has come in the wake of two Sri Lanka team support staff contracting the virus.

“New dates are 17th-27th; maybe even further delayed,” a Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) spokesperson told The Indian Express, adding: “After the second positive case, the idea is to ascertain that nobody else is affected, and hence the decision has been taken to wait for a few days.”

An SLC functionary informed that the board has asked the selectors to arrange back-up squads as a contingency.

India, led by Shikhar Dhawan, are scheduled to play three ODIs followed by as many T20Is and the first match was originally scheduled on Tuesday. However, Sri Lanka’s batting coach Grant Flower tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday, three days after the squad returned from England.

On Friday, Sri Lanka’s data analyst GT Niroshan tested positive and was moved to intermediate care units alongside Flower. It is learnt that the second case in two days prompted SLC to push back the India series by four days in consultation with BCCI and the broadcasters. As for the Sri Lankan squad, they will remain in isolation for two more days and will enter the bio-bubble subsequent to fresh RT-PCR tests.

The news of fresh positive tests came on the heels of three Sri Lankan players breaching the team bio-bubble in Durham during the England tour. The SLC suspended Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Mendis and Danushka Gunathilaka for the breach.

The Covid outbreak in the Sri Lankan camp follows the virus badly affecting the England team ahead of their ongoing home series against Pakistan. With seven individuals – including players and support staff – testing positive on Tuesday and the entire team going into isolation, England and Wales Cricket Board named an entirely new squad, led by Ben Stokes, for the three-match ODI series.

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Meanwhile, SLC has informed that the Lanka Premier League 2021, which was expected to commence on July 29, will now be played from November 19 to December 12.

Tentative revised dates for the Sri Lanka-India series: July 17, 19 and 21 (ODIs); July 24, 25 and 27 (T20Is)

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