Tuesday, Jul 05, 2022

New COVID Variant: Will India A Cricket Team Pull Out Of Series in South Africa, Dutch Team Worried Too

The new coronavirus variant is putting a lot of sports schedule South Africa in jeopardy. The junior hockey World Cup for women has already been put on hold.

The final day of the first 'Test' match between South Africa A vs India A was rained off in Bloemfontein on Friday. Cricket South Africa

The final day of the four-day unofficial 'Test' match between South Africa A and India A on Friday was rained off. But the biggest worry for international teams currently visiting South Africa is not the rain but the new COVID variant that threatens to run loose. (More Cricket News)

The Indian A men's cricket team is scheduled to play three four-day games in South Africa. All matches are being played at the Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein and the second four-day game will start on November 30. It is not clear if the Indian cricket board (BCCI) will continue the tour.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands national team, playing an ODI series in South Africa, is also contemplating the future of its short series in wake of the new coronavirus threat.

Cricket South Africa said the Dutch have not yet called off the tour and returning to Amsterdam will not be easy given the COVID conundrum in Holland is equally worrying. Reportedly, the Netherlands don't have a direct flight to their country before December 3.

"Both boards can confirm that following updated information, it is highly unlikely that the visiting team will be able to fly out of South Africa over the weekend," an official statement said.

"The KNCB is reviewing all of its options while prioritising the physical and mental well-being of its players. A decision on the continuation of the series will follow in the next 24 to 48 hours, while all flight options are being considered."

There has been no official word from the BCCI so far. BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal has been quoted as saying that "situation in South Africa is being monitored."

The Indian board adopted a very brave approach hosting back-to-back IPLs in the UAE when COVID was at its peak and the ICC had cancelled the T20 World Cup scheduled in 2020. India had also pulled out of the final Test in UK before IPL due to COVID scare in its support team.

Reportedly, an official of BCCI has said that India's tour of South Africa, scheduled to start December 8 or 9, may not happen if the coronavirus gets out of control. India are scheduled to play three Tests, three ODIs and four T20Is.

South Africa are already on the red list of countries and there could be severe travel restrictions coming up.

Meanwhile, the international hockey federation (FIH) has put the Junior Women's Hockey World Cup on hold. The Indian team was to leave for South Africa on Saturday. The FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup South Africa 2021 was scheduled from December 5-16 in Potchefstroom.

The new COVID strain, expected to peak in the new few weeks, is threatening to throw a packed sporting schedule in South Africa into disarray. The West Indies women's cricket team is also scheduled to visit South Africa in January next year.


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