India tour of South Africa: BCCI monitors situation amid fears of new COVID variant

The Indian team is scheduled to leave for South Africa on December 8 – a day after the Test series against New Zealand gets over.

But now, with fears increasing over the new COVID-19 South Africa variant, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is keeping a close eye on the situation, before taking a call on the tour of South Africa.

The India A team is currently inย Southย Africaย for an unofficial Test series, and the senior teamโ€™s seven-week assignment is scheduled to begin on December 17.

The BCCI officials,ย Sportstarย spoke to, indicated that they are awaiting further details and advisory from Cricket South Africa about the road ahead.

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Earlier, the Board had planned to do away with hard quarantine for the players upon their arrival in South Africa as they would be in a bubble-to-bubble transfer. However, with the threat of a new variant –ย B.1.1.529 – the Board does not want to take any risks. โ€œIt is too early to comment on the future of the tour. As of now, we are weighing all the options and keeping a tab on the situation,โ€ a source in the BCCI said, indicating that the players could be put under hard quarantine for about four days upon their arrival in the rainbow nation.

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The members of the India A teamย did not undergo any hard quarantine after reaching South Africa. The players trained soon after reaching the country and even featured in the first unofficial Test in Bloemfontein. The second Test starts from November 29. Several sources confirmed that there has not been any communication from the BCCI about any tweak or changes to the A teamโ€™s tour.

โ€œIt is difficult to predict what will happen over the next few days. Our respective units are monitoring the situation and depending on the situation, we will act. The safety of the players is paramount for us and we will do everything to ensure that all our members are safe and healthy,โ€ a Board official said.

As per the original schedule, the tour will begin with the first Test in Johannesburg between December 17 and 21. It will be followed by the Boxing Day Test in Centurion and the third Test in Cape Town between January 3 and 7. There will also be a three-match ODI series, followed by a T20I series.

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