Melbourne, January 2
Five Indian cricketers, including Test vice-captain Rohit Sharma and opener Shubman Gill, have been placed in isolation and an investigation launched into a possible breach of Covid protocol. Sharma, Gill, Rishabh Pant, Prithvi Shaw and Navdeep Saini have been separated from the Indian and Australian squads.
A video clip posted on the social media showed the five at a restaurant in Melbourne on Friday. As per the Covid protocol, players are allowed to eat in outdoor settings, provided they follow social distancing norms. However, they are not allowed to dine indoor. A fan, Navaldeep Singh, posted pictures and videos of the cricketers dinning at the restaurant. Singh claimed that after he had paid the cricketers’ bill, “Pant hugged me.” Back-tracking later, he apologised on Twitter, writing: “Pant never hugged me. It was all said in excitement, We maintained social distance all thru:) Apologies for miscommunication (sic).”
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Cricket Australia (CA) said they were investigating the matter. A CA statement read: “In the interim, on the advice of the Australian and Indian medical teams, these players have been placed in isolation as a precaution. This will include separating the group of players from the broader Indian and Australian squads when travelling and at the training venue.”
However, the five players would be allowed to train while adhering to the bio-security protocol, the CA added. The possible breach by the players raises questions over the role of the administrative manager of the Indian team and whether they were made aware of specific rules on dining out.
The BCCI had initially ruled out any investigation, with a senior official saying: “We can only term it as a malicious spin by a section of the Australian media.” — TNS/Agencies