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T20: Indian Premier League postponed as Covid-19 tears through the country
4 May 2021, 10:58
The Indian Premier League has been postponed with immediate effect due to the country's deepening coronavirus crisis, with England's 11 participants among those now looking for safe transit out of the nation.
The competition has continued against the backdrop of a major public health emergency which has seen daily infections top 400,000 but the Board of Control for Cricket in India unanimously voted to suspend the action indefinitely after multiple franchise bubbles were hit by infections.
The English Cricket Board is now helping bring their players, who have been receiving daily Covid-19 advice and support, back to the UK.
England's IPL contingent include captain Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jason Roy, Dawid Malan, Sam Billings, Chris Woakes, Chris Jordan, Tom and Sam Curran.
A statement on behalf of the IPL read: "The Indian Premier League governing council and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in an emergency meeting has unanimously decided to postpone IPL 2021 season, with immediate effect.
"The BCCI does not want to compromise on the safety of the players, support staff and the other participants involved in organising the IPL. This decision was taken keeping the safety, health and well-being of all the stakeholders in mind.
"These are difficult times, especially in India and, while we have tried to bring in some positivity and cheer, it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone goes back to their families and loved ones in these trying times.
"The BCCI will do everything in its powers to arrange for the secure and safe passage of all the participants in IPL 2021."
Mumbai Indians were due to play Sunrisers Hyderabad on Tuesday, in what would have been the 31st match of a scheduled 60, but Sunrisers became the third franchise to reportedly return a positive Covid-19 case among their staff a matter of hours before the planned start.
Two players from the Kolkata Knight Riders and two of the Chennai Super Kings backroom staff also tested positive over the weekend, leading to enforced quarantine and postponed fixtures.
Meanwhile, coronavirus infections and deaths are mounting with alarming speed with a top expert warning that the coming weeks in the country of nearly 1.4 billion people will be "horrible".
India's official count of coronavirus cases surpassed 20 million on Tuesday, nearly doubling in the past three months, while deaths officially passed 220,000.
But the true figures are believed to be far higher - the undercount a reflection of the troubles in the healthcare system.
Infections have surged in India since February in a disastrous turn blamed on more contagious variants of the virus - including the variant first discovered in Kent.
The Government has also been blamed for the surge in cases due to decisions allowing massive crowds to gather for Hindu religious festivals and political rallies before state elections.