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Update Pink-ball Test on schedule despite COVID-19 second wave in Adelaide

[Image: the-border-gavaskar-series-beg.jpg]

The first Test of the Australia-India series is unlikely to move out of Adelaide despite the sudden coronavirus outbreak that has forced some of the other states to declare the city as a "hotspot" of the pandemic. Cricket Australia (CA) have insisted that they are still very much on track with their preparations to host the first-ever day-night Test between the two countries at the historic Adelaide Oval. And that the only way that could change is if they were actually left in a situation where they simply "couldn't" go ahead with it. It's a scenario similar to the Boxing Day Test at the MCG wherein shifting the match out from Melbourne is the worst-case scenario that CA aren't foreseeing at the moment.

Adelaide's sudden spike in new COVID-19 cases, which rose from 4 to 18 on Monday (November 16), has already seen Western Australia, Queensland and Tasmania either shut their borders with South Australia or have all visitors from the state undergo self-isolation for 14 days. It's also resulted in state cricketers from those states, Tasmania and WA in particular, who returned home from the Sheffield Shield hub in Adelaide being forced to quarantine at their respective homes for two weeks starting Monday. They include Test skipper Tim Paine and Matthew Wade along with new sensation Cameron Green and white-ball spinner Ashton Agar.

The more issue for CA at the moment seems to be finding a way to getting the likes of Green and Agar to Sydney in time for the opening match of the India tour, which will be the first ODI at the SCG on November 27. The Indians are already into their fifth day of hotel quarantine, which is set to conclude a day before that match. Virat Kohli & Co have commenced training at the Blacktown Oval since November 14 (Saturday).

Fortunately for SA, New South Wales and Victoria have decided to keep their borders open for now and not follow the lead of the other states. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian in fact has spoken about needing to learn to "live with the virus" and isn't expected to change her stance on the matter. Crucially, as far as the the Test series schedule is concerned, Victoria's call on not enforcing any restrictions on visitors from Adelaide, despite identifying it as a hotspot, would be a huge relief. That would mean that the players and other stakeholders involved in the series can travel to Melbourne post the first Test in Adelaide without any hassle. The borders between the two states are on track to open on December 1 after having been shut from the time Victoria experienced its second wave of the pandemic three months ago.

As it stands, the Australian Test squad is set to assemble in Adelaide on December 10, once the white-ball leg of the tour is concluded and so too India's first warm-up game against Australia A, which includes some Test players like Paine, Travis Head and Joe Burns. The Indians will join them on December 14 following their second warm-up game under lights at the SCG.

The likely replacement for the first Test in case Adelaide is ruled out would be the SCG, since the Indians would already be there. But for now, CA believe a last-minute shift wouldn't be required. Contact tracers have been working around the clock to contain the spread, which for now is said to be controlled in the northern part of the city. Long queues of people waiting to get tested were seen throughout Monday, And while they announced a string of restrictions, including the closure of gyms and recreational centres along with reductions in the number of people allowed in pubs and restaurants, SA Premier Steven Marshall and chief health officer Nicola Spurrier are confident that the outbreak will be kept in check. Or as Spurrier put it, "What we are facing is, indeed, a second wave but we haven't got the second wave yet."

And for now, it looks like Adelaide still has the first Test too


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