'Silly': Five India players investigated over potential Covid bubble breach

Australian Associated Press
·4-min read
Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Shubman Gill and Navdeep Saini eating at a restaurant.
Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Shubman Gill and Navdeep Saini are under investigation after attending a restaurant, which could be deemed a breach of the biosecurity protocols. (Image: Twitter)

A quintet of players are in precautionary isolation as India's cricket board investigates a potential breach of biosecurity protocols, with the NSW government coming under increasing pressure to lock fans out of the SCG Test.

Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Shubman Gill, Prithvi Shaw and Navdeep Saini have all been placed in isolation after a video of them sitting at a table in a Melbourne restaurant was posted on the Twitter account of Navaldeep Singh.

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Singh suggested on Friday he paid the bill for the table then hugged Pant, although on Saturday he claimed there was no hug and players kept their distance.

The five players will be kept separate from the broader Indian and Australian squads when travelling and at the training venue but will be permitted to train in accordance with strict protocols that have been put in place.

There was confusion over whether or not the five stars did breach biosecurity protocols for the team, but some fans suggested it was ‘silly’ to have put themselves in the situation ahead of the SCG Test.

The four-Test series between Australia and India is being played amid a backdrop of biosecurity rules, which will get stricter when the squads travel to Sydney on Monday.

Players and staff are permitted to leave the hotel but must dine outdoors.

The protocols have helped Cricket Australia, which requires exemptions from Queensland's government for players to travel from Sydney to Brisbane for the fourth Test, navigate the country's latest COVID-19 outbreak.

CA came down hard on Brisbane Heat after Chris Lynn and Dan Lawrence's biosecurity breaches earlier this season, fining the club $50,000 ($20,000 suspended) and each player $10,000 ($4,000 suspended).

England paceman Jofra Archer's biosecurity breach in 2020, when he stopped at his house while the squad travelled between hotels, resulted in a one-Test ban.

It will be up to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to decide what sanctions, if any, are levelled.

NSW premier tightening Covid restrictions

The episode comes as the NSW government rolls out a range of restrictions in response to rising coronavirus cases in Sydney, with masks to become mandatory for many indoor settings.

Outdoor seated events are now capped at 2000 people, although NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says COVID-safe plans for larger events will be reviewed.

NSW Health officials will do a "walk through" at the SCG before rubber stamping plans for the third Test, which currently permit a daily crowd of approximately 20,000.

NSW Opposition Leader Jodi McKay has called for there to be no crowd at the SCG Test.

Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid issued a public plea on Saturday regarding an event that could "supercharge the spread of COVID-19".

Gladys Berejiklian (pictured) has come under fire again for tightening restrictions in NSW, but allowing the SCG Test to go ahead with thousands of fans. (Getty Images)
Gladys Berejiklian (pictured) has come under fire again for tightening restrictions in NSW, but allowing the SCG Test to go ahead with thousands of fans. (Getty Images)

"This is a potential transmission site," Dr Khorshid said.

"As people queue at the ticket gates, at food and beverage stalls and use shared toilet facilities - on top of taking public transport from all parts of Sydney to gather in one central location.

"The decision to hold the Test match with spectators is at odds with the rest of NSW's appropriate response to the latest outbreak.

"Let's put health first and watch the third Test on TV."

Ms Berejiklian defended the fact that masks will be recommended - but not mandated - at the ground but felt fans would understand if there are any last-minute changes to rules or crowd size.

"During a pandemic, things can move very quickly," Ms Berejiklian said.

"People in our state understand decisions need be taken (quickly) and the consequences that might occur."

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