MUMBAI: Even as reports emerged that Delhi Capitals & India left-arm spinner Axar Patel, Royal Challengers Bangalore opener Devdutt Padikkal and as many as eight out of 19 groundsmen working at the Wankhede Stadium have tested positive for Covid-19, the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) remains confident of staging its allotted matches in IPL-2021, which now just a week away from kick off.
“Right now, there is no one at the Wankhede Stadium, as it is shut on the weekend. The BCCI will test all our groundsmen on Monday. Those who test positive will be asked to stay at home and get treated, while those who test negative will be asked to stay back at the Wankhede Stadium. They will then be a part of the bio-bubble at the stadium, which means that they will stay at the stadium’s premises till the conclusion of the Mumbai leg of the IPL,” MCA secretary Sanjay Naik told TOI on Saturday.
“The BCCI has been testing all our groundsmen at the Wankhede every second day. The matches will be held in a bio-bubble, in an empty stadium. I can assure you that Mumbai will stage all its matches comfortably, and there are no plans to shift the matches out of here,” Naik said. “Perhaps, the groundstaff in Mumbai got infected as they were travelling in public transport to commute from their homes to the stadium. We’ve now asked them to stay at the Garware Club (situated in the Wankhede premises) till the Mumbai leg of the IPL is done with. The practice wickets at Wankhede are ready, while the match wickets should be ready in two-three days,” said another MCA official.
The MCA secretary, though, refused to comment on the eight Wankhede groundsmen testing positive so far.
“The entire picture about their tests will be clear on Monday,” Naik said. The MCA may ask its groundstaff from its other two facilities – the Sharad Pawar Academy at Bandra-Kurla Complex and Sachin Tendulkar Gymkhana at Kandivali – to fill in for those ruled out due to covid.
Four franchises – Delhi Capitals, Mumbai Indians, Punjab Kings and Rajasthan Royals – are training in Mumbai, but no team has trained so far at the Wankhede. Maharashtra reported 47,827 new COVID-19 cases and 202 deaths on Friday with Mumbai seeing the highest-ever single day spike of 8,832 new cases. It was the second day in a row that Mumbai recorded more than 8,500 cases.