It's not even a week since the IPL 2021 was resumed in the United Arab Emirates and now, the season has got hit by the Covid-19 pandemic again as T Natarajan, who is a pacer attached to the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), had tested positive for the viral infection on Wednesday. The shocking development had surfaced a sense of fear in Hyderabad's camp and sparked a question over whether the season will be suspended again for the second time in the same year.
The current and 14th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) had begun in India during this year's April -May and when the season was strengthening the battle, the Covid-19 pandemic had hit the grounds after several players and staff members had contracted the pandemic. As the sequel of virus spread, the BCCI, which conducts IPL, has suspended the season indefinitely till it returns to normalcy.
The season was halted in an unprecedented fashion and four months after the suspension, the matches were resumed last Sunday, not in India, but in the United Arab Emirates. Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians had opened the second phase of the season and within four days of the resumption, T Natarajan has tested positive for the Covid-19 viral infection on Wednesday. He was in the SRH's squad and was preparing for a match against the Delhi Capitals. However, as he had contracted the disease, he was removed from the squad and put in isolation.
According to reports, Natarajan, who had returned to the field after knee surgery, has been isolated along with six of his direct contacts, including all-rounder Vijay Shankar, who was also part of SRH. On the front of conducting today's match, a BCCI official has said that though Natarajan has tested positive and isolated, SRH's match against Delhi Capitals will be conducted as scheduled.
An official release from BCCI has said, "Sunrisers Hyderabad player T Natarajan tested positive for COVID-19 at a scheduled RT-PCR test. The player has isolated himself from the rest of the squad. He is currently asymptomatic." SRH took to Twitter and wrote, "T Natarajan has tested positive for Covid-19, and is presently in isolation. We wish you a swift and full recovery, Nattu."
It has been reported that the rest of the teammates in SRH including Natarajan's close contacts had undergone RT-PCR tests at 5 am local time on Wednesday and besides Natarajan, all other players were tested negative. His close contacts who were isolated were Vijay Shankar, Vijay Kumar (Team Manager), Shyam Sundar (Physiotherapist), Anjana Vannan (Doctor), Periyasamy Ganesan (Net Bowler), and Tushar Khedkar (Logistics Manager).
According to IPL's Standard Operating Procedures, Natarajan will now have to isolate for ten days and he has to test negative again before being allowed to play the match. As soon as the fans learn the news, they had expressed wishes to Natarajan for a speedy recovery. The development of Natarajan testing positive for the pandemic had come as a drastic blow for the SRH, which is gearing up for the first match after the IPL resumption and the Men in Orange squad is in an imperative need to build a winning momentum as SRH is currently placed at the bottom of the IPL points table with 2 points - one victory from seven matches.
It must be noted that Natarajan had in May this year received the Covid-19 vaccine. He wrote on social media, "Am so grateful to get my #Vaccine this morning. A million thanks to our incredible health care workers who have put themselves at risk for our people."