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India vs South Africa ODI Series: The Threat of Coronavirus Looms Large

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At Dharmasala the venue for the first India vs South Africa ODI, WUHAN, the epicenter of the deadly Coronavirus, has gained a new meaning.

According to hoardings installed at Dharmasala cricket stadium WUHAN-Wash hands, Use mask, Have temperature checked regularly, Avoid large crowd, Never touch face with unclean hands- is a list of precautionary measures to be taken by the public.

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The Coronavirus that reportedly started from Wuhan in China has now spread to as many as 114 countries. Yesterday, World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak Pandemic as the global death toll reached 4000.

The governments have been forced to take every possible measure to curb the spread of the virus.

The fear of Coronavirus has jolted the sports industry as well which has seen some of the major events being postponed, cancelled or played in empty stands.

India vs South Africa ODI series
Indian cricket team with Ravi Shastri ahead of India vs South Africa ODI at Dharmsala (Pic Credit: India TV)

India vs South Africa ODI Series Tickets Unsold

When India is playing at home, it is very rare that more than half of the tickets go unsold, considering how passionate Indians are about their cricket.

Earlier, there were reports of the series being postponed amidst Coronavirus scare but BCCI maintained a firm stand that the series will go ahead as scheduled.

The result, however, is the poor spectator turnout which is likely to continue for the second and third ODI too.

India vs South Africa ODI Series 2020
Dharamasala Cricket Stadium the venue for India vs South Africa ODI (Pic Credit: Zee News)

Players to Tread Cautiously

Both India and South Africa players were seen wearing masks as they arrived in Dharmasala ahead of the first ODI.

Moreover, they were brought to the city through a special chartered plane to ensure utmost safety. They have also restricted their public outings and limited their pre and post media interactions.

Also, there were murmurs that players won’t be allowed to use saliva on the ball during the match and they’ll also avoid shaking hands before the match.

When asked about the same, Indian pacer Bhuveneshwar Kumar trolled the reporter saying that, “If we don’t use saliva we won’t be able to shine the ball and then if we go for runs, you’ll will be the first one to criticize us”.

He further added the decision on shaking hands and using the saliva will be taken after the advice of our team doctor. South African skipper, Quinton de Kock, however, said they’ll continue to use saliva as all their team members are  absolutely fine.

Bhuveneshwar Kumar bowling at Wanderers in a India vs South Africa ODI (Pic Credit: Zee News)

BCCI Issues Advisory to Indian players

The BCCI has advised the Indian team and management to avoid eating outside at restaurants. The players have also requested to not give selfies and shake hands with their fans.

Moreover, players have also been briefed about the guidelines issues by WHO and Ministry of Health and Welfare – Government of India.

Remaining ODIs To Be Played In Empty Stadiums

After the first ODI in Dharmasala, was abandoned due to rain, respective cricket associations have decided to hold the remaining matches in empty stadiums due to the dreaded novel coronavirus pandemic.

The next two ODIs in India vs South Africa series are scheduled to be held Lucknow on March 15 and in Kolkata on March 18.

The Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association (UPCA) secretary Yudhveer Singh confirmed to the reporters that the match in Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow will be held behind closed doors.

Moreover, Cricket Association of Bengal has also put ticket sales on hold with immediate effect.

Image result for ekana cricket stadium
Ekana Stadium where the second ODI between India and South Africa was to be held on 15th (imagecredit:knocksense)

Fate of IPL Hangs in Balance

IPL Trophy (Pic Credit: Lokmat.com)

The fate of the upcoming edition of the Indian Premier League will be decided in the Governing Council meeting in a couple of days from today, on March 14.

There is a possibility of the IPL being played at empty stands but due to the visa restrictions imposed by the government, no foreign player will be able to participate in the IPL till April 15th, which is a huge blow as it will take the charm away from this mega league.  

Moreover, the Maharashtra and Karnataka government has also made it clear that they’ll not host any matches in their state. As of now, things look really grim for this year’s IPL.

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