U-19 Cooch Behar Trophy knockout round postponed after spurt in COVID-19 cases

The BCCI is likely to pause and postponed the ongoing Cooch Behar Trophy after several players tested positive for COVID-19.

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REPRESENTATIVE IMAGE: The Cooch Behar Trophy was being played in a bio-bubble in Pune, Maharashtra.   -  Getty Images

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has postponed the ongoing U-19 Cooch Behar Trophy after several players tested positive for COVID-19.

The tournament was being played in a bio-bubble in Pune and the quarterfinals were to begin on January 11, but BCCI chief Sourav Ganguly confirmed to Sportstar that with widespread COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra and several players contracting the virus, the knockouts will be put on hold.

Over the last few days, several teams reported COVID-19 cases and players had to be isolated. Keeping all the factors in mind, the Board is of the opinion that it is not in a situation to go ahead with the tournament any further.

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In a letter to State units, BCCI secretary Jay Shah wrote, “As estimated, the caseload shot up immediately. I believe a timely call was taken and it will help us curb the spread of the new variant, which is far more infectious...”

“At the time, it was decided that Cooch Behar Trophy, which had already started can continue as we had successfully completed the league stage involving 93 matches across 20 venues. We were set for the knockout stage in Pune with quarterfinals from tomorrow but with just seven matches left in the tournament, the virus has raised its head again. Unfortunately, there have been COVID-19 cases within the team environment, and we are now forced to postpone the knockout stage, keeping the health and safety of everyone concerned,” Shah wrote.

‘Difficult times’

Mumbai, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Vidarbha, Bengal, Haryana and Maharashtra qualified for the quarterfinals. “These are difficult times. We don’t want to put anyone at risk. The safety of players is paramount and we will do everything to ensure that all are safe,” a source in the Board said.

Last week, the BCCI had postponed the Ranji Trophy, the Col. C. K. Nayudu Trophy, and the Senior Women’s T20 League. However, it was then decided that Cooch Behar Trophy would go ahead since the tournament was “underway.”

But now, training sessions have been called off and players are being asked to stay back in the hotel as the respective State units wait for a formal word from the Board before bringing their respective teams back home.

“Once the caseload again goes down and the situation improves, we will lock in a new window and resume the knockout leg of the tournament,” Shah wrote to the State associations.

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