Show goes on as franchises up Covid aid but question of use of medical resources is revisited

Prithvi Shaw smashed an 18 ball half century on his way to securing victory for Delhi

Hendo

Two franchises have donated a total of nine crore (about $1.3m) to the battle against the impact of coronavirus in India as the IPL continued to rally to the cause. Rajasthan Royals donated 7.5 crore while Delhi Capitals, who have already been promoting an initiative to encourage survivors to provide blood plasma to sufferers, added 1.5 crore to the pot.

Rajasthan's offering was announced by the RRF, the team's philanthropic arm, in partnership with the British Asian Trust. The Trust's founder, Prince Charles, launched an emergency "oxygen for India" appeal, which is helping with acquisition and distribution of oxygen concentrators, which provide enriched gas from the air to treat patients when supplies at hospitals run low.

In other developments, two senior umpires quit, only for one to rejoin later, a match referee left after the death of his mother and further details emerged about the medical resources available to players in Delhi – information that may enrage those who feel that the tournament should be cancelled.

Australian umpire Paul Reiffel was the man forced to return to the tournament after he found his route back to Australia through Doha blocked. Fellow official, the highly-rated Indian Nitish Menon, quit after his wife and mother fell ill with Covid-19.

And Manu Nayyar, a match referee based in Ahmedabad, departed, although it had not been confirmed that his mother's death was due to Covid.

Asian News International, an Indian press agency, meanwhile, inadvertently added to the argument about where medical resources are allocated when they spoke to one of the doctors providing care at the tournament.

Yash Galuti, one of two chief medical co-ordinators, revealed that any injured player requiring medical assistance would be sent to a Covid-free facility, also telling the agency that two fully-equipped ambulances were on standby at the Arun Jaitley Stadium, where a number of matches are currently being staged.

He also disclosed that 12 doctors at hospitals in the city were on call for the tournament, among them orthopaedic specialists, eye surgeons, dentists and casualty officers.

He told ANI: "If some cricketer is injured, we will treat him in a Covid-free facility, he will be isolated and all the Covid protocols will have to be followed until he is tested negative."

He said he was treating cricketers for free because of his affection for the sport.

"For the last 23 years, all the Test and one-day matches happening in Delhi, I provide medical cover on a pro bono basis. I never charge them anything because I love the game. "This time they asked me to provide medical cover for the IPL. I am ensuring to the best of my capability that the medical cover is provided following all the protocols very strictly. Our team has 12 members from various hospitals and we are providing our services in rotation."

In today's cricket action, Eoin Morgan's reputation for keeping a poker face was well and truly tested by his KKR bowlers as they were given a spanking by the Delhi Capitals' opening pair Prithvi Shaw and Shikhar Dhawan in Ahmedabad, who led the way in a seven-wicket win with 21 balls to spare.

Shaw is a player rejuventated after a poor IPL six months ago and his subsequent dropping from the India Test team after their debacle in Adelaide in the first Test in Australia.

He smashed Shivam Mavi's first over for six fours after the pace bowler had delivered the widest of swinging wides down the leg-side with his first ball.

Shaw, who rediscovered his touch for Mumbai in the domestic 50-over Vijay Hazare tournament, where he scored 827 runs in eight innings with four hundreds and a fifty, went on to his fifty from 18 balls – the fastest this season – while Shikhar Dhawan, himself quite prolific in this year's tournament, chugged along happily at around a run a ball.

Morgan, who had earlier been caught by Steve Smith on the long-off boundary for a two-ball duck as his own side reached only 154, tried to effect a half-grin bordering on nonchalance but you could be sure this was hurting deep down.

He even dispensed for a while with the second cap he has taken to wearing when in the field, while there were a couple of discernible gulps from the KKR captain as he fully recognised their predicament: they have picked up only two wins from seven games

It was a truly lovely knock, though, from Shaw, who struck fours with an effortless poise, the power and timing very much reminiscent of Virender Sehwag, a man he has been regularly compared to. Shikhar fell lbw to a slower-ball full toss from Pat Cummins within sight of another fifty, while Shaw went on to 82 from 41 balls.

He fell in the same over as Rishabh, also to Cummins, both caught after skying ambitious shots off the Australian quick, who finished with highly creditable figures of three for 24. Shimron Hetmeyer and Marcus Stoinis followed the pair to the wicket as the padded-up Smith was demoted further and further down the order in what seemed a mildly amusing Delhi in-joke.

There were no great surprises, either, in the earlier game on double-header Thursday. Mumbai Indians eased to the 172 runs required with nine balls to spare against Rajasthan in Delhi. Put into bat, Delhi had encouraging contributions from their top four, although none was able to progress to a fifty.

Jasprit Bumrah's brilliant yorker bowling at the death prevented them getting the 180 or more they at one point threatened. He finished with one for 15 from his four as every other bowler went at a rate of at least eight runs per over.

Then a fluent knock from Quinton de Kock, who finished 70 not out from 50 balls, and a more muscular one from Krunal Pandya put them in sight of victory before Kieron Pollard finished things off with a scorching six over cover off Chris Morris and further boundaries, one off his helmet which he could be seen vigorously encouraging to reach the fence.

If cricket is to provide entertainment at this awful time for India, such moments of humour, albeit by teams certain to win, are very much required.