Indian players test negative for COVID-19, 5th Test likely to go ahead

A senior cricketer voiced his concerns about the situation becoming worse if a playing member tested positive on one of the match days.

All players of the Indian cricket team have tested negative for COVID-19, clearing the decks for the fifth and final Test against England to go ahead as scheduled from Friday despite objections of “one senior player” after assistant physio Yogesh Parmar’s positive test triggered uncertainty.

The negative tests of all 21 players increased the chances of the match at Old Trafford going ahead even though concerns remain. India lead the series 2-1.

“All the players have tested negative and that’s the good news. But let’s keep our fingers crossed that the match would go ahead,” a senior BCCI source said.

BBC Test Match Special tweeted, “The ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) say that all the India players PCR COVID Tests have come back negative and the Old Trafford Test goes ahead as planned.”

This was after it came to light late on Thursday evening that the Indian contingent had gone into a huddle after a senior cricketer voiced his concerns about the situation becoming worse if a playing member tested positive on one of the match days.

It is learnt that ECB chairman Tom Harrison is trying to talk to the high-profile player and address his concerns. All the other members of the side are in favour of match going ahead.

If the situation reaches a dead-end as the player’s family wants him to withdraw, then the BCCI might just politely ask him to rest for the game.

Jadeja, Bumrah all set to be rested

It is learnt that if the Test match goes ahead as per schedule, then pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah, having bowled 151 overs, will be rested and Mohammed Shami, will take his place.

In another development, Ravichandran Ashwin could finally get his first game of the series as Ravindra Jadeja is suffering from a leg strain.

If the reluctant senior player decides to sit out then Suryakumar Yadav or Hanuma Vihari might get into the playing XI.

Earlier, Parmar’s positive COVID-19 report had prompted BCCI president Sourav Ganguly to admit that there was uncertainty around the Test.

After head coach Ravi Shastri and bowling coach Bharath Arun, another member of the support staff testing positive forced the team to cancel its practice session on Thursday.

“We don’t know if match will happen at the moment. Hopefully we can get some game,” said Ganguly at the book launch of ‘Mission Domination’ in Kolkata as a part of Tata Literature Festival.

There was speculation that the ECB proposed that India forfeit the match in case reports of the players come out positive. However, India had turned down the idea.

Parmar testing positive leaves the team without a physio with the main physio Nitin Patel already in isolation after Shastri contracted the virus during the Oval Test.

It is learnt that the BCCI has asked the ECB to spare a physio.

Besides Shastri and Patel, fielding coach R Sridhar and Arun are also isolating in London.

Only batting coach Vikram Rathour was with the team when it won the fourth Test at the Oval on day five.

All the players and the support staff are fully vaccinated but both teams are not operating in strict bio-bubbles with life in U.K. almost back to normal.

Shastri is likely to have got the symptoms after attending the launch of his book in the team hotel where outside guests were also allowed.

Arun, Patel and Sridhar attended that function in person.

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