Adam Zampa, one of three Australians to quit the IPL, has said that he believes that the tournament should have been played in the UAE again as India wilts under the weight of hundreds of thousands of Covid cases.
His comments came as the BCCI claimed that the biosecure bubble was perfectly safe for players while rumours swirled that the ICC was looking at the Emirates as a possible alternative for the world T20, due to be staged in India in October. Sri Lanka is reportedly also being considered as an option should conditions fail to improve or get worse.
The leg spinner, who had been representing the Royal Challengers Bangalore although he had not played a game this season, told The Age newspaper: “We’ve been in a few [bubbles] now, and I feel like this is probably the most vulnerable.
“I just feel like because it’s India, we’re always being told about the hygiene over here and being extra careful. The IPL that was held in Dubai six months ago didn’t feel that way at all. I felt like that was extremely safe.”
Zampa, though, and compatriot Kane Richardson have been unable to get home after Australia cancelled all flights from India until May 15, leaving them in suspended animation in a Mumbai hotel near the city’s airport.
The BCCI’s interim chief executive, Hemang Amin, has tried to quell disquiet among the players, emailing the eight teams to say that they are safe and that further precautions are being put in the place.
In the email, which was seen by Cricinfo and The Guardian, he said: “We understand there are a few apprehensions and concerns. We completely respect the decision taken by the players [who have left] and extend our support to them in every way. At the same time, we would also assure you that you are totally safe within the bubble.
“Recently, we increased testing in our bio-bubbles to be extra vigilant. Instead of the stipulated test every five days, we now conduct a test every two days.
“Further, earlier in the tournament, we had permitted food deliveries from outside your designated hotels, but these privileges have also been withdrawn.”
And according to the Daily Mail in the UK, the UAE has been kept as a standby venue for the world T20.
Earlier this month, the ICC chief executive, Geoff Allardice, had hinted that it might not be held in India if the Covid situation got worse, saying that cricket’s world governing body had backup plans in place.
Zampa could at least have passed the time in his Mumbai lodgings by watching his RCB colleagues eke out a win by a single run in their top-of the-table clash against Delhi Capitals in Ahmedabad. A B De Villiers’ remarkable ability to turn an average or below-par total into a good one was once again in evidence as he smashed 75 from 42 balls, including 22 off a final over from Marcus Stoinis that cost 23 in all.
Stoinis paid most of those runs back, although not quite at that rate, as Delhi recovered from 47 for three to 92 for four with a little over seven overs remaining.
Rishabh Pant and Shimron Hetmeyer are two of the best hitters in the game and certainly one of the pairs you would choose to have in the middle in that situation. But with three overs to go, 46 were still required as Kyle Jamieson and Harshal Patel pushed the ball through at yorker length almost at will, making boundaries hard to come by.
But Hetmeyer finally launched Jamieson into the stand at mid-wicket and followed up with two more sixes, which suddenly made the near-impossible seem more likely. Mohammed Siraj was entrusted with the final over with 14 still needed and, with two balls to go, Delhi still needed 10. Pant almost swung himself off his feet in successive balls to hit fours behind square on the offside and although both batsmen finished with fifties, it wasn’t quite enough.
Pant, who might regret that he had mishandled his bowling resources to the point that he had to choose between Stoinis and leg spinner Amit Mishra to deliver the final over in RCB’s innings, wore a massively disenchanted look at the end, needing consolation from Kohli and several others as he slowly hauled himself from the field.
But he should be proud to have placed a decent hand in what turned out to be a thrilling encounter and will realise there are far more worldly things to be upset about at the moment.