India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin missed the plane for the United Kingdom after turning out positive in one test for Covid-19. Picked for the Edgbaston Test, spanning July 1 to 5, the 35-year-old stayed put in India when the Test regulars left for England on June 16.
Ashwin missed the contingent that featured Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, and Hanuma Vihari. The player is currently undergoing quarantine as required in the health protocols set by the BCCI and local health authorities in the travel guidelines.
He will be arriving in the UK only after giving a successive set of negative tests and clearing all health-related check-ups. Given that the rescheduled fifth Test against England is less than 10 days away, Ashwin’s participation in the match now hangs on a thin rope.
The team management would’ve ideally wanted him fit for the park ahead of their only red-ball warm-up – the four-day first-class encounter against Leicestershire, starting June 23. The fixture will also feature Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant, who were busy playing the T20I series against South Africa, alongside those who had reached London nearly a week back.
While a cloud of uncertainty now hovers over Ashwin’s availability for selection, a source privy to the issue within the BCCI told PTI that the team management and selectors are “hopeful” he will recover in time for the Test match.
“Ashwin hasn’t travelled with the squad to UK as he has tested positive for Covid-19 before departure. But we are hopeful that he will recover well in time before the Test match starts on July 1. However he might miss the practice game against Leicestershire,”PTI quoted this source as saying.
The rest of the Test squad – plus the net bowlers – has already moved base from London to Leicestershire after initial few training sessions and conditioning. They are training under the supervision of bowling coach Paras Mhambrey and batting coach Vikram Rathour.
Head coach Rahul Dravid, who left for the UK on the night of the conclusion of the South Africa series along with Pant and Iyer, has reached London and will be overseeing the preparation for the critical World Test Championship fixture from June 21.
For Dravid, the Test match in Birmingham will be personally important, given that India’s last overseas assignment under his tutelage in South Africa didn’t go according to plan as the visitors failed to come out triumphant in their final frontier.
Speaking of the Test match after the completion of the T20I series, Dravid looked excited going back to England for his favourite version of the game, having enjoyed multiple fruitful tours as batter and captain during his illustrious 16-year career. Dravid anticipated a packed crowd for the game and deemed it vital to India’s WTC final hopes.
An alternative Indian squad selected for the two-match T20I series in Ireland will be supervised by Dravid’s friend and ex-teammate, the great VVS Laxman, who is now the director of cricket operations at the National Cricket Academy.
Having been with the India U-19s when they went to West Indies for the World Cup win, he will now be head of the support staff for the T20Is in Malahide on June 26 and 28 with Dravid busy on England duties.
This Ireland-bound squad will leave Indian shores on June 23 or 24, as reported by PTI, with the think-tank giving limited-overs specialists part of the South Africa T20Is a three-day rest. This alternate party may also indulge in the two T20 warm-up games scheduled for the Indians on June 1 and June 3 versus Derbyshire and Nottingham, while the Test squad faces England at the same time.