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Five India players placed in isolation as boards probe breach of COVID-19 protocol

Cricket Australia confirmed on Saturday that five India players, Test vice-captain Rohit Sharma included, were placed in isolation after they committed a possible breach in biosecurity protocols by eating at a Melbourne restaurant earlier this week.

Australia and India are in the middle of a four-match Test series with both sides currently staying in Melbourne before travelling to Sydney for the third Test from January 7.

Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Shubman Gill, Prithvi Shaw, and Navdeep Saini were purportedly seen eating at an indoor restaurant in Melbourne in a video posted on social media. The fan, who was apparently seated close to them, had tweeted about getting a hug from Pant but later retracted the claim after it raised serious questions on a breach of protocol.

Rohit Sharma was among the five players who were spotted in a Melbourne restaurant. (Twitter/@NavalGeekSingh)

While the BCCI brass had initially ruled out any investigation on its part, Cricket Australia’s late statement said a joint probe is on and the five have been isolated from the remaining team.

As per protocol, players are allowed to eat out, following social distancing norms.

“The BCCI and CA are investigating the matter and seeking to determine whether the outing constitutes a breach of biosecurity protocols,” Cricket Australia said in a statement.

The isolation protocols were put in place after consulting with medical teams.

“…on the advice of the medical teams, the aforementioned players have been placed in isolation as a precaution. This will include separating the group of players from the broader Indian and Australian squads when travelling and at the training venue,” CA stated.

“The players – Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Shubman Gill, Prithvi Shaw, and Navdeep Saini – have been separated from the Indian and Australian squads but will still train in accordance with the strict protocols.”

It is understood that as per bio-security protocols provided by Cricket Australia, players were told not to have meals at indoor restaurants. They are supposed to not avail any public transport but allowed a walk around the cities where they are playing.

Questions are now being raised as to whether the administrative manager and the cricket operations point person, who are looking after all the modalities, were aware about the players’ movement and made them aware about the specific rules for dining out.

India crushed Australia by eight wickets in the second Test in Melbourne, making an incredible comeback days after the debacle in the four-match series opener in Adelaide.

(with PTI inputs)

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