New Covid Variant in SAP Creates Uncertainty around India’s Upcoming Tour, No Decisions on Pulling out the ‘A’ Team

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Following a new Covid outbreak in South Africa, India’s senior cricket team’s upcoming SA tour is now under a big question mark. India is to play three Tests, three ODIs and four T20Is starting over seven weeks starting from December 17. The senior team is set to leave for SA after finishing their ongoing meet with New Zealand.

The Indian ‘A’ team is now touring South Africa and playing their first four-day game at Bloemfontein. Despite receiving an advisory from the Health Ministry on Thursday, the BCCI has not yet turned the panic mode on or cancelled the ‘A’ team’s ongoing tour.

According to the BCCI official, “We need to get the details from Cricket South Africa before deciding our future course of action. We are keeping an eye on the development.” It has also been reported that no communication has been sent to the team regarding this issue.

On the other hand, India’s junior women’s hockey team was scheduled to fly to South Africa on Saturday to participate in the Junior Women’s World Cup. However, the International Hockey Federation, on Friday evening, announced to put the tournament on hold for the time being.     

On Thursday, the Health Ministry made it clear that the new variant identified in many states may bring serious health implications. There has also been a directive stating that international travellers coming from and transiting through Botswana, South Africa, and Hong Kong must be subjected to rigorous screening and testing following the reports of multiple cases of new Covid variant B.1.1529 in those countries.

The Netherlands cricket team is currently visiting SA for a three-match ODI tour. On Friday, the first ODI  in Bloemfontein was cancelled due to rain and the fate of the remaining two matches are yet to be decided by the cricket boards of both countries. Cricket South Africa in an official statement said, “Cricket South Africa (CSA) and Koninklijke Nederlandse Cricket Bond (KNCB) are aware of news reports doing the rounds regarding the Netherlands tour to South Africa being cancelled or postponed.”  

“Both boards can confirm that following updated information, it is highly unlikely that the visiting team will be able to fly out of South Africa over the weekend. The KNCB is reviewing all of its options while prioritising the physical and mental well-being of its players. A decision on the continuation of the series will follow in the next 24 to 48 hours, while all flight options are being considered.”

Following the news of the new variant, the UK and Irish golfers and rugby teams have already withdrawn their games from SA and now are rushing to return home. However, the situation around India’s SA tour is still fluid. 

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