Abhimanyu Easwaran on COVID-infected Bengal players: 'They are fine, no major symptoms'

Back from India A's tour of South Africa, Bengal skipper Abhimanyu Easwaran will be gearing up for the Ranji Trophy once his colleagues are fit and when fresh dates are out.

Abhimanyu Easwaran played for India A in the series against South Africa.   -  Getty Images

Bengal captain and top-order batsman Abhimanyu Easwaran is hopeful that his teammates will recover from COVID-19 within two weeks to kickstart the Ranji Trophy preparations.

On Monday, five Bengal cricketers — Anustup Majumdar, Sudip Chatterjee, Kazi Saifi, Geet Puri and Pradipta Pramanik — had tested positive for the virus, which cancelled the team's practise sessions and the two-day warm-up match against Mumbai. 

A rise in cases in the country forced the Board of Control for Cricket in India to postpone the red-ball tournament, which was supposed to start from January 13.

READ: Minister Tiwary pads up for Ranji Trophy outing

"They [the Bengal cricketers] are still in quarantine and isolation. They are tested regularly. For now, at least for 15 days, nothing is going to happen. I am sure they will be fine, before the new dates are announced for Ranji Trophy. 

"Everybody is fine, and there are no major symptoms. Two weeks is the maximum time for anybody to recover, so I am sure they will. There is not too much concern," Abhimanyu, who is back in the city of joy from India A's tour of South Africa, told Sportstar.

Bengal had an impressive run in the pre-COVID Ranji Trophy 2019-20 under Abhimanyu. It lost to Saurashtra in the final.

There will be huge expectations this time around. 

Bengal has quality batters in Chatterjee, Majumdar and the state's sports minister Manoj Tiwary. The pacers, Ishan Porel, Mukesh Kumar and Akash Deep, have been the game-changers, along with spin-bowling all-rounder Shahbaz Ahmed.

Bengal batter Abhimanyu Easwaran.   -  CAB Media


Abhimanyu wants to prepare according to the conditions in Bengaluru, where Bengal is supposed to play. "We will be trying to practise on similar wickets. There will probably be a bit of movement initially, and then it may become batting-friendly. And it might get slower with time. We are trying to have game plans like that at the nets. There could be times where we may have to bowl at a particular channel to keep the run rate down. In red-ball cricket, consistency is the key," he said.

READ: BCCI postpones Ranji Trophy due to rising COVID-19 cases

The young skipper feels having seniors such as Tiwary is a blessing. "I have been with him for so long. Even when he was not a sports minister until two years ago. He is still the same. He is a senior and has played a lot of cricket. He, Anustup and the other seniors share a lot about conditions because they have the experience."

COVID and quarantine 'part of the job'

The 26-year-old has been travelling with the Indian team for some time. He was part of the Test squad in England in 2021, where he had to quarantine after coming in contact with throwdown specialist Dayanand Garani who had tested positive.

But he witnessed India's dominance in the Test series from close quarters. "It is a big honour to be part of the best Test team and play alongside people like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah. There were a lot of learnings, and I was happy to be part of the unit. It will help me improvise as a player and motivate me more," he said.

Recently in South Africa, the Omicron-scare subdued his fine hundred at Bloemfontein, but it did not dampen his spirits. "It is always special to get a hundred for your country at any level. And getting it in overseas conditions makes it even more special. For me, it was about preparing well for the South Africa tour. It was about getting used to the pace and bounce and having a game plan to follow," said Abhimanyu, who missed out on the senior team berth to Priyank Panchal.

Abhimanyu has accepted that quarantine and bio-bubble is part of the job. "It has become part of our profession now. Every country has different rules for quarantine because of COVID. There are bio-bubbles you need to live. It is challenging, but it is part of the job as cricketers. We have chosen this, and in COVID times, we need to go by this only because it is about being safe. It is not about you or any other individual, it is for the safety of the whole team and the unit."

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