Cricket, IPL 2021: T. Natarajan, Covid positive, tournament restart, India Covid crisis, David Warner, Australians

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Fresh off the Indian Premier League’s restart it was shut down in May, an Indian star has sent shockwaves through the competition all over again.

Sunrisers Hyderabad bowler Thangarasu Natarajan has become the first Indian Premier League player to test positive for coronavirus but the team’s match on Wednesday will go ahead, organisers said.

Natarajan and six close contacts, including all rounder Vijay Shankar, have been isolated from the team to take on Delhi Capitals in Dubai. Natarajan and Shankar are the only players.

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Hyderabad named the contacts, who returned negative tests on Wednesday morning, and said Natarajan is “asymptomatic”.

“The rest of the contingent including the close contacts underwent RT-PCR tests at 5am local time this morning and the test reports are negative,” a release from the IPL said.

Hyderabad, led by New Zealand’s Kane Williamson, are placed bottom of the eight-team table and need to win all remaining games to keep their playoff hopes alive.

The tournament resumed Sunday after it was halted in May because of a devastating surge in pandemic deaths in India, prompting foreign players to rush home.

Many have not come back including England’s Ben Stokes, who had been with Rajasthan Royals, and Australian Pat Cummins of Kolkata Knight Riders.

Cummins headlines a list of eight Australians who have withdrawn including Jhye Richardson, Riley Meredith, Andrew Tye, Daniel Sams, Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson and Mitchell Marsh.

However, there will still be 13 Australians featuring in the second half of the tournament including Josh Hazlewood (Chennai Super Kings), Marcus Stoinis, Steve Smith and Ben Dwarshuis (Delhi Capitals), Glenn Maxwell, Dan Christian and Tim David (Royal Challengers Bangalore), Moises Henriques and Nathan Ellis (Punjab Kings), Chris Lynn and Nathan Coulter-Nile (Mumbai Indians), Ben Cutting (Kolkata) and David Warner (Hyderabad).

Australian players, coaches and commentators were stranded in the Maldives after the tournament was suspended in May as Covid ran rampant though India.

At the time, Australia slammed the border shut after Aussie starts Adam Zampa

“Yeah it did a little bit,” Cummins told The Back Page at the time. “Once we flew out of Australia we knew we were signing up for 14 days quarantine coming home, so you always feel that little bit further away from getting home.

“As soon as the hard border shut, obviously no one has experienced that before. It added a bit of anxiety for a few of the Aussies over here.

“But we signed up to play the tournament until the start of June. Hopefully it all reopens on May 15 and we’ll be able to get back.”

Former Aussie opener Michael Slater, who was commentating at the time, said that Prime Minister Scott Morrison would have “blood on your hands”.

India had a high of over 400,000 cases and 4100 deaths a day in May but currently have around 30,000 cases a day with more than 350 deaths per day currently.

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