Team India have been hit with a bodily blow as head coach Ravi Shastri has been tested positive for COVID-19 in England. The news was confirmed on Sunday (September 5). Along with Shastri, three other members, Bharat Arun, Nitin Patel, and R Sridhar, have been told to isolate after being identified as close contacts.
"The BCCI Medical Team has isolated Ravi Shastri, Head Coach, B Arun, Bowling Coach, R Sridhar, Fielding Coach, and Nitin Patel, Physiotherapist as a precautionary measure after Shastri's lateral flow test returned positive last evening," said the official communique from the BCCI secretary Jay Shah.
The four members have undergone the mandatory RT-PCR tests and have been advised by the medical team to stay in the hotel room until further confirmation by the team. As with the COVID-19 norms and protocols, the remaining members of the Indian team too underwent two Lateral Flow Tests - one late last night and another on the morning of September 5. Upon getting negative results, the players were allowed to play Day 4 of the ongoing Oval Test.
As of now, there is no threat of COVID stopping the fourth Test as the players' negative results have enabled them to continue with the proceedings smoothly. India batting coach Vikram Rathour will take over as the team’s head coach in the absence of Shastri. However, the bigger challenge for the team will be the unavailability of the physiotherapist during the ongoing Oval Test. It remains to be seen who comes to the field to attend the players if there is a slight niggle here and there.
Currently, the Indian team members have been carrying out the lateral flow test daily ever since Rishabh Pant was tested positive. But the test is not as accurate as Rapid Antigen Test (RAT). After completing the fourth Test, India are set to travel to Manchester on Tuesday (September 7).
Speaking about Shastri, he may have tested positive during his book launch event. "Since there is no restrictions in the UK, outside guests were allowed during Shastri's book launch party. These people also were his closest contacts, so it has now led to mandatory isolation," a BCCI source was quoted by My Khel.