U-19 Cooch Behar knockouts in jeopardy after 57 test Covid-19 positive

The knockout round of Under-19 Cooch Behar Trophy is under severe threat after 57 Covid-19 positive cases – 30 players, nine support staff, and the rest being groundsmen and match officials – have emerged inside the bio-bubble.

The eight qualified teams for the knockouts – Mumbai, Maharashtra, Vidarbha, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Bengal – were scheduled to play four-day knockout fixtures, scheduled in Pune from January 11 (Tuesday).

The development comes mere days after the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced the postponement of a host of domestic tournaments, including the Ranji Trophy, Col CK Nayudu Trophy and the Senior Women’s T20 League for the 2021-22 season amid what is understandably the third wave of the pandemic in the country.

The number of Covid cases in the country continues to rise sharply; India recorded 1,79,723 fresh cases on January 10, taking the active caseload in the country to 7,23,619, while as per the Union Ministry of Health, the Omicron tally in the country stood at 4,033.

Even as the BCCI has not yet pulled the plug on Cooch Behar Trophy, the volume of positive cases inside the bio-bubble has dented the chances of the tournament going as per the original schedule badly.

It is further learnt that of the 30 Covid-19 positive players, six are from Mumbai but no team has managed to stay secure, with at least one positive case in each team. An Indian Express report states that “a majority of the players have not yet been vaccinated as they have been in a bio-bubble for the last one month, playing league games”. Meanwhile, an official announcement regarding the tournament’s future is imminent.

“We will take a call on it soon. As the tournament was already on, we didn’t want it to stop but soon we will have to take a decision on it,” a BCCI official said.

Last week, when the board had decided to postpone three domestic tournaments, BCCI secretary Jai Shah had highlighted that the board’s priority remains the health and security of the players.

“BCCI does not want to compromise the safety of the players, support staff, match officials and other participants involved and hence, has decided to put the three tournaments on hold till further notice. The BCCI will continue to assess the situation and take a call on the start of the tournaments accordingly,” Shah had said.