New Covid-19 variant casts shadow over India's South Africa tour as BCCI awaits central government's decision

New Covid-19 variant casts shadow over India’s South Africa tour as BCCI awaits central government’s decision

India will be on a seven-week long assignment in South Africa, starting December.

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli. (Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images)

The new variant of the Covid 19 has brought certain uncertainties over the Indian cricket team’s upcoming tour of South Africa. As per BCCI sources, the Indian cricket team is awaiting the government’s decision on whether to go ahead with the planned tour or not. The sources also added that the senior players of the side are expected to travel to South Africa on December 8.

It is also been reported that the BCCI is planning to retain quite a few players from ongoing India A tour. Currently, the India A team is in South Africa where three unofficial Test matches are scheduled between the teams. Whereas the senior team’s tour to the nation is scheduled for next month, starting from December 17. The two teams are staged to play three Test matches, as many ODIs and four T20Is. However, now the new variant of the virus has raised serious concerns on the tour.

A new coronavirus variant – B.1.1.529 has wreaked havoc in South Africa. First identified in the country this week, it has spread rapidly to the nearby countries as well. Thus, it may lead to certain tweaks in the quarantine rules for players in the coming days.

India will be on a long assignment in the nation wherein the players will be in the country for nearly seven weeks. However, South Africa has been witnessing a sudden rise in cases especially in the northern part of the country. Johannesburg and Pretoria, which are the two venues for the Test matches, might also become vulnerable to the spread of the new variant.

Need to factor in new aspects after rise in cases in South Africa: BCCI source

“Look, till we get a detailed picture of the ground situation from Cricket South Africa (CSA), we will not be able to tell our next step. As per the current plan, the Indian team is supposed to leave either on December 8 or 9 just after the New Zealand series gets over in Mumbai,” a senior BCCI official said as quoted by TOI.

The BCCI official also hinted that owing to the rise in cases in the country, the players might need to be put in hard quarantine.

“Initially, there was no provision for hard quarantine but obviously the players will remain in a bio-bubble. Now with cases rising in South Africa and the European Union also canceling flights temporarily, we need to factor in these aspects,” the source added.