Virus case in India camp casting doubt on fifth Test

Filed on September 9, 2021
Indian captain Virat Kohli (left) during the nets session at Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester on Wednesday. (Reuters)

England batsman Jos Buttler said they have 'fingers crossed' the final Test will start on Friday as scheduled at Old Trafford

India cancelled their last practice before the fifth Test against England amid a new coronavirus scare on Thursday.

England batsman Jos Buttler said they have “fingers crossed” the final Test will start on Friday as scheduled at Old Trafford.

India assistant physiotherapist Yogesh Parmar was the latest to test positive, forcing all of the tour party to isolate in their Manchester hotel on Thursday and await the results of a fresh batch of Covid-19 tests.

India are already without coach Ravi Shastri, bowling coach Bharath Arun, fielding coach R Sridhar and main physio Nitin Patel, who remain in London after testing positive during the fourth Test India won on Monday at the Oval. They will miss the fifth Test, and India is without a certified physio.

“We will get a clear picture around a little past midnight India time. The tests have been done by ECB’s testing agency and the reports will come in around 8pm UK time. With physio Nitin Patel in isolation, it was Parmar who was working with the team over the last few days and since he has tested positive, it will be the test reports which will decide the way forward,” a BCCI source said.

India lead the series 2-1 but positive tests among the players would affect the end of a gripping series.

Many of the India players also star in the Indian Premier League (IPL) which is due to resume on September 19 in UAE after being cut short by the virus in May.

England completed their preparations on Thursday for the fifth Test.

“We’re fully expecting the game to go ahead and we’re preparing to play tomorrow,” Buttler said. “Fingers crossed the game will go ahead.

“We don’t know too much to be honest. It would be naive to speculate too much on stuff I don’t know about. Things are all fine in our camp.”

Buttler, who was on paternity leave during the Oval Test, said his team is all fired up to square the series.

“It was a fantastic Test match (at the Oval). The Indians played brilliant cricket. We want to win this Test match and level the series. The spirits are high in the side, it’s a must win game for us,” he said.

There is speculation that England pace spearhead James Anderson might be rested for the game but Buttler hinted otherwise.

“He has bowled fantastically well in the series. Jimmy is incredibly fit. He has looked after himself very well. He looks exactly the same (as was in first match) and is available for selection,” he said.

Talking about the wicket, Buttler said, “Pretty good wicket, looks a bit dry. There could be spin later on. We played against the West Indies and Pakistan so we know the conditions pretty well.”

Earlier in the day, England announced their World Cup squad which will be without star all-rounder Ben Stokes. Buttler is vice captain and he said they have a good bunch of players for the tournament.

“There is strength and depth. The white ball squad is fantastic. We have some brilliant players and match-winners. We are excited for that challenge and will try to do the maximum.”

It has also been reported that when England will travel to Ashes later in the year, the players may not be allowed to take their families along. Asked about this, Buttler said the players will take a decision on the matter only when they have more clarity.

“In the current situation we are waiting for more information to make any decisions. All guys are waiting for more clarity in (next) two weeks,” he said.

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