The three-match ODI series between India and Sri Lanka, which was scheduled to begin on July 13, has been rescheduled by a few days after a couple of support staff in the Sri Lankan team tested positive for COVID-19.
The ODI series will now begin on July 18, and will be followed by the second and third fixtures on July 20 and 23.
The decision was taken as Sri Lanka Cricket wanted the players to serve an extended period of quarantine to maintain the safety protocols after its batting coach Grant Flower and a team analyst, G.T. Niroshan, contracted the virus on their return from the England tour.
Sportstar understands that the Sri Lanka Cricket has already communicated to the BCCI about the revised schedule and it has been mutually decided to push back the games by a few days.
BCCI secretary Jay Shah spoke to SLC chairman Shammi Silva on Friday to assess the situation. Sri Lanka might have to put together a different team from the one that returned from England in case there are further positive cases in the camp.
Speaking to Sportstar from Colombo, Prof. Arjuna de Silva, the SLC medical committee head, said the Lankan players will now be under quarantine till Sunday. "Since we had a second positive case, we wanted to conduct another round of RT-PCR test on Sunday and depending on that, we will take a call. We thought it would be best to extend the quarantine because in case there are further positive cases, then the team won't have much time to prepare," De Silva said.
"It is not possible for the players to come out of quarantine and play cricket straightaway and that's the reason behind postponing the series by four days," he added.
Multiple reports suggested that Flower had contracted the Delta variant of the virus, but De Silva said that it is still not confirmed. "We are still sequencing the thing, so it is not confirmed. In England, there are cases of Delta variant, but in this case, we need to confirm before making a comment."
While Flower had shown symptoms, Niroshan was asymptomatic. "None of the players were in contact with the support staff after reaching Sri Lanka, and so far, no players have tested positive and none of them have shown symptoms. We will see what the RT-PCR test reveals on Sunday."
The SLC has kept two separate group of players in bio-bubbles - in Colombo and Dambulla - so that in case need be, a new team can be formed. "We have so many options. The series will definitely go on, in case it is needed, we can get the players from the Dambulla bubble. Hopefully, we will be able to field the main team as we want a competitive series against India," De Silva said.
Sri Lanka Cricket is set to formally announce the revised schedule on Saturday.
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