Ganguly says IPL 2021 to go ahead as scheduled amid international pull outs

Even as some cricketers are pulling out of the league, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly clarified that the 2021 season of the IPL is expected to go ahead as scheduled.

The BCCI president's clarification comes after a few international cricketers chose to pull out of the tournament midway due to rising COVID-19 concerns in the country.   -  IPL/Sportzpics

The Indian Premier League is expected to continue as per schedule, despite some overseas players pulling out of the tournament due to personal reasons and bio-bubble fatigue.

"So far, it's going on as scheduled," the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Sourav Ganguly told Sportstar on Monday.

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While Ravichandran Ashwin took a break from the tournament on Sunday, to be with his family, Royal Challengers Bangalore's overseas recruits - Kane Richardson and Adam Zampa - withdrew from the tournament to fly back to Australia. Rajasthan Royals' Andrew Tye - who also pulled out of the league - said that he feared getting locked out of his own country owing to mounting quarantine cases from India in his hometown Perth.

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Sources in England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Cricket Australia said that they do not plan to call the players back, but they will do the best to facilitate the return of players who wish to fly home. Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers' Association also issued a joint statement on Monday, saying that they are monitoring the situation.

"Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers' Association remain in regular contact with Australian players, coaches and commentators taking part in the Indian Premier League, which is being conducted under strict bio-security protocols," they said."We will continue to listen to feedback from those on the ground in India and the advice of the Australian Government. Our thoughts are with the people of India at this difficult time."

Some of the franchise officials, this publication spoke to, also indicated that they will do everything possible if any player wishes to pull out in these trying times.

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"As of now, there is no communication in calling off the tournament, so we are planning everything to keep players motivated and safe. If any player wants to pull out due to family/personal reasons, we will do everything possible to help him," a franchise official said.

After the Mumbai and Chennai leg, the caravan format of the tournament will now move to Delhi and Ahmedabad. "We are strictly following all the government and BCCI protocols. We have made it clear that only the GCA office bearers and the three former cricketers - who are in charge of the practice facilities - will be allowed to enter the stadium, following all protocols," Gujarat Cricket Association secretary Anil Patel told this publication.

With cases spiking in Gujarat, the GCA is not taking things lightly. "The groundstaff and other relevant staff have been inside the bubble for the last seven to ten days inside the stadium and they are being tested on every alternate days, to ensure that everything runs smoothly," Patel said.

"Even the GCA officials and the in charge of the practice facilities are also taking RT-PCR tests on alternative days and only after negative results are they allowed to enter the stadium. However, they can't go to the zones earmarked for the players and the match officials as they (GCA officials) are not inside bio-bubbles," the secretary said.

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While Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) chief Rohan Jaitley was not available for a comment, sources in the BCCI have indicated that the association, too, has ensured that all the groundstaff and the relevant personnel have been inside the bubble for more than a week and no one from outside is allowed to come in contact with the people inside the bubble.

India is recording over three lakh daily cases for the past few days and the health infrastructure is struggling to handle the rise, with shortage of oxygen and some essential medicines.

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