Kohli could be stranded when India resume training, official warns
Top Indian players like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma could be left stranded in pandemic-stricken Mumbai when senior players start training again, an official has warned.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) could allow outdoor training as early as next week when a further easing of the government's nationwide coronavirus lockdown is to start.
But Mumbai, where national captain Kohli and batsman Sharma are based, is at the forefront of India's battle against the pandemic, and tough restrictions are expected to be maintained there.
"For players like Kohli and Rohit, the restrictions are there in Mumbai and might stay," BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal told AFP.
Mumbai has recorded almost 1,000 coronavirus deaths and accounts for more than a third of India's fatalities so far. The number of new cases is still rising.
Dhumal said that following government talk of further easing its nearly two-month-old lockdown, "some skill-based training" outdoors could be possible in other parts of India.
While international cricket and the Indian Premier League have been high-profile sporting victims of the coronavirus, Kohli and other players have been posting pictures of their indoor training and other activities on social media during the lockdown.
Dhumal said India's National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bangalore was working on a post-lockdown plan for players which would be adapted to the level of restrictions.
"As of now we are working, given the lockdown restrictions, through apps and online modes. The coaches and support staff are regularly in touch with the players," said Dhumal.
"Everybody would be keen to hit the ground and the idea is whenever we are ready for cricket to resume, they (the players) are able to give their 100 percent."
India have a short tour of Sri Lanka scheduled for June but it is widely expected to be called off.
Indian athletes are also keen to resume training with many preparing for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics which has been pushed back by a year.
Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju has assured athletes that outdoor training will resume after the lockdown while taking necessary precautions amid the virus.
"We will resume practice soon but in a controlled manner," Rijiju said after a video interaction with the national hockey players.
"Those technicalities have to be drawn up by health experts in consultation with the coaches, federation officials and the government.
"I assure that we will extend all support to get our athletes back on the ground to train, but we must be careful."
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Manjunath Kiran