IND vs ENG, 5th Test: All members of Indian team test negative for COVID-19

The fifth Test in Manchester may go ahead after all as all members of the Indian team tested negative for COVID-19.

The Indian team won the fourth Test in Manchester. - GETTY IMAGES

Despite physiotherapist Yogesh Parmar having been diagnosed with COVID-19, an eventful Thursday resulted in India set to take the field against England on Friday for a mouthwatering series finale at Old Trafford in Manchester.

Parmar’s positive lateral flow test on Wednesday evening in Manchester came to light on Thursday afternoon. It led to the Indian team having expressed reservations about playing the fifth Test considering the health risk posed to themselves and the family members accompanying them.

However, after several hectic rounds of discussion between both the national governing bodies, it was agreed that the match will go on as per schedule and a word was passed on to India’s camp in Manchester late on Thursday night to start prepping for the game.

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It will be interesting to see if any of India’s cricketers who were apprehensive about playing the game make themselves unavailable on Friday.

After a conference call with India’s team management early on Thursday afternoon (IST), the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is understood to have entered into negotiations with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

With the IPL scheduled to resume in the United Arab Emirates on September 19, the BCCI wasn’t keen on risking the health of players days before the tournament and jeopardising resumption of the league.

Once the RT-PCR tests of every member of the Indian camp, except Parmar, returned negative in the night, the ECB insisted that the Old Trafford Test needs to go ahead.

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While BCCI wanted the game to be abandoned and the fifth Test rescheduled to next year, ECB stuck to its stand that the game will have to be forfeited - and not abandoned - by the BCCI since the local medical authorities had cleared the players to take the field.

It eventually resulted in the BCCI deciding to not jeopardise its relationship with a close ally and with the cricketers having left the final call with the BCCI, it was agreed that unless any other squad member develops symptoms overnight, the match will go ahead as per schedule.

It will mean that COVID-19 circumstances and weather permitting, Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara’s fitness will be assessed on Friday morning. The duo missing the field during England’s futile chase at the Oval after hurting their left knee and left ankle, respectively.

Offspinner R. Ashwin is expected to make his first appearance of the series, with Ravindra Jadeja unlikely to be available for the game due to a niggle.

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Following Parmar’s positive result, all the members of Virat Kohli’s squad underwent RT-PCR tests on Wednesday night. The reports of all the players, except Parmar, returned negative on Thursday. While the players were confined to their rooms since Wednesday night, India’s team management also cancelled its customary pre-match media interaction without citing any official reason.

Parmar’s positive test has taken the number of COVID-19 cases in India’s entourage to four, with head coach Ravi Shastri, bowling coach B. Arun and fielding coach R. Sridhar having been diagnosed positive during the fourth Test at The Oval in London last week.

Nitin Patel, the senior physio, was isolated in London after being traced as the trio’s close contact. He is understood to have travelled to Manchester on Thursday after clearing two negative RT-PCR tests.


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