Rishabh Pant
Rishabh Pant
File Picture

New Delhi/ London: Wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant and throwdown specialist Dayanand Garani tested positive for COVID-19, while two others were placed in precautionary isolation as the dreaded virus hit the Indian cricket team ahead of next month's Test series against hosts England.

One coaching staff member and reserve wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha were also put in isolation for having come in contact with Garani.

All four are currently in London while the rest are reaching Durham this evening after reassembling from a 20-day break. London to Durham is a five-hour bus journey.

Pant and Saha will miss the practice match scheduled to start on July 20 against a combined county side.

A BCCI source confirmed that Pant has been in isolation for the past eight days. He is, according to the source, asymptomatic at this point. "He is in quarantine at an acquaintance's place and won't be travelling with the team to Durham on Thursday," he said without divulging when the 23-year-old will join the squad. However, he is likely to undergo a COVID-19 test in the next couple of days.

The rest of the squad, sans Pant and the injured Shubman Gill, left for Durham on Thursday from London. Gill had sustained a leg injury earlier this month and the young batsman had left the team's bio-bubble.

The development comes close on the heels of BCCI secretary Jay Shah sending an e-mail to the Indian contingent, warning it about the rising cases of COVID-19 in the United Kingdom.

The break was given to the players after the World Test Championship against New Zealand, which the team lost last month.

It is understood that Pant has been afflicted by the Delta variant which has led to rising number of cases in England. He was seen attending a Euro championship match last month and had even posted pictures on his social media accounts.

He underwent a test after experiencing low grade fever.

Shah, in his letter, told the players to "avoid" crowded places as Covishield, the vaccine which has been given to the team, only provides protection, not full immunity against the virus.

In fact, Shah's letter had specifically stated that players should avoid going to the Wimbledon and Euro Championships, both of which recently concluded there.

The Indian team is due to take on England in a five-match Test series starting August 4. It will play a practice game starting July 20 as a build-up to the high-intensity series.

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