There is increased anxiety among players about the remainder of the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 season since two Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) players were confirmed to have tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday. However, franchises think "there is no going back" and the tournament needs to run its course despite the pandemic spiralling out of control in India.
On Monday, two Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) players - Varun Chakravarty and Sandeep Warrier - and two members of the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) camp - a support staff and a bus cleaner - were confirmed to have tested positive for COVID-19.
"There is no going back now with half of the tournament done. The news (positive cases in KKR) makes the BCCI's job more challenging," PTI quoted a franchise official as saying.
"We have been hearing that a player got infected because he was taken outside the bubble for scans. So, it could have happened outside the bubble. As far as I know, everyone is strictly following the protocols laid out by the BCCI and there was no breach there," he added.
Another official said that the world's biggest T20 league should continue as long as other teams are not affected by the virus outbreak.
"Even if you have to pause the tournament, how long can you hold back? The only way is to keep isolating the positive cases and keep playing. The players are naturally more anxious now but it is mainly because they are not sure about how they would get back home."
With countries like Australia, New Zealand and the UK banning arrival of passengers from India, the significant contingent of players from these countries are all the more worried about getting back home now.
A few overseas players, like Austalian trio Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson and Andrew Tye returned Down Under before the travel ban was imposed. But others have stayed back to see out the tournament, which is scheduled to end on May 30.
"We should let the BCCI decide what is best for all of us. Flooding them with too many opinions on what should be done following the cases at KKR would only lead to more confusion," another official said.
Defending champions Mumbai Indians were already conducting daily tests on players and others teams are likely to adopt the norm.
KKR players have been told to isolate in the room and even teams like Delhi Capitals have told its players and support staff to stay in their rooms after the development on Monday. The two sides played each other on April 29.
A former India player competing in the league summed it up aptly.
"There is a lot of anxiety among players. Obviously we are being tested every second day but looking at the situation in the country, you are always scared what next in case you test positive," he said.
"We are hanging in there but you cannot just negate the fear factor," he added.