The Indian cricketers, contracted to play the Indian Premier League (IPL), left for the UAE in chartered and commercial flights after returning negative RT-PCR tests for the second time in two days. The travel arrangements were made by players' respective franchises.
The players began their early departures for the remainder of the IPL, starting September 19, after India's fifth Test against England was postponed indefinitely following the COVID-19 outbreak in the Indian camp.
The players, led by Virat Kohli, refused to take the field despite testing negative for the virus as they had apprehensions that playing members could contract the virus after assistant physio Yogesh Parmar tested positive just ahead of the final game.
"The good news is that all the players and support staff members have now tested negative for the RT-PCR for the second time. The reports arrived late on Friday evening and most of them are already on their way to Dubai for the IPL," a senior BCCI official told PTI.
"Two non-IPL players Abhimanyu Easwaran and Arjan Nagwaswalla will be flying out on Monday with the rest of the support staff. They will be flying to their respective Indian cities via Dubai and will take a commercial flight," the senior official said.
The players started departing in clusters -- some in charter flight arranged by their franchises like Mumbai Indians and Sunrisers Hyderabad while Chennai Super Kings cricketers took commercial flight.
"Mumbai Indians flew in three of its Indian contingent members, captain Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, and Suryakumar Yadav, to Abu Dhabi on a private charter flight. The trio, along with their families, arrived today morning and will now undergo six days of hard quarantine, starting today as per the IPL's guidelines," MI issued a statement.
"All members had returned negative RT PCR results before departure. A new RT PCR test was undertaken upon arrival at Abu Dhabi, which are negative as well," it also stated.
RCB captain Virat Kohli and his premier pacer Mohammed Siraj also took a charter flight from Manchester. "Keeping the safety and security of our players as the utmost priority, Royal Challengers Bangalore have arranged a special charter flight for captain Virat Kohli and Mohammed Siraj to ensure their safe transit to the UAE.
"The players will be flying out at 11.30 PM (UK time) on Saturday and will arrive in Dubai early Sunday morning. Both, Virat and Siraj will undergo 6-day quarantine in Dubai before joining the team bio-secure bubble," RCB said in a release.
Harrison himself attended Shastri's Book launch
It was learnt late on Friday evening that even England and Wales Cricket Board CEO Tom Harrison attended the book launch of India's head coach Ravi Shastri, who got infected during the function and was forced into quarantine during the fourth Test.
BCCI was peeved at the timing of the event in the middle of the series since it allowed outside guests. It has now been identified as a super spreader with no one wearing face masks because of relaxation of rules.
Shastri, bowling coach Bharath Arun and fielding coach R Sridhar all tested positive after the event. It was local British paper 'Evening Standard' that reported Harrison's attendance on August 31, which wasn't known to most people.
"Standard Sport can reveal that Harrison, the ECB Chief Executive, also attended the event. He wore a mask throughout, except consuming food and drink."
However, if the newspaper is to be believed then Harrison apparently "hadn't seen the guest list" and "expected a COVID-safe event, in line with the safer guidelines that were laid out for both teams by the ECB this summer."