Ahead of the much anticipated Ranji Trophy season opener, as many as seven members of the Bengal Cricket team have tested positive for COVID-19. The development has not only put Bengal's preparation plans to rest but has now at least put doubts over the conduct of the country's premier first-class domestic tournament.
Bengal, who are placed in Group B along with Vidarbha, Rajasthan, Kerala, Haryana and Tripura, are set to begin their campaign against Tripura in Bengaluru from January 13. In view of the COVID cases, Bengal's travel to Bengaluru scheduled on January 8 could be pushed back.
"Keeping in mind the current pandemic situation, the Cricket Association of Bengal had conducted RTPCR Tests of all Bengal cricketers as a safety measure," CAB secretary Snehasish Ganguly said in a statement late on Sunday evening as quoted by PTI.
"The results have come out and it has been found that certain players had tested positive. The CAB is taking all necessary precautions and actions in this regard," he added.
The same report quoted sources as saying that the seven people in question are Sudip Chatterjee, Anustup Majumdar, Kazi Junaid Saifi, Geet Puri, Pradipta Pramanik and Sujit Yadav among the players along with assistant coach Saurasish Lahiri.
Local matches in Kolkata cancelled amid spike in COVID-19 cases
It is also being reported that the players, as well as Lahiri, were present at the team's training sessions as well as practice matches in Kolkata which were all part of the prep heading into the tournament. Consequently, they have all been placed in isolation. Although Bengal was slated to play a couple of warm-up fixtures against Mumbai, those stand cancellled with the COVID-19 infections.
Meanwhile, Kolkata is seeing a rapid surge in the number of Coronavirus cases and the local matches happening in the city have all been cancelled. Amid this, reports suggest that the Ranji Trophy matches being given to Kolkata including the knockouts of the tournament could be moved to a different venue.
Earlier BCCI President Sourav Ganguly, who lives in Kolkata, also tested positive for infection. However, the former India skipper had recent travel history, unlike the Bengal members who were prepping up for the competition.