India depart for Birmingham; two players test positive for COVID-19

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Two players from India’s 15-member squad have tested positive for COVID-19 and have stayed back in the country ahead of the team’s Commonwealth Games opener against Australia on Friday (July 29). The Indian team flew to Birmingham on Sunday morning (July 24) without the two players.

“A second player has tested positive for COVID-19 and it happened before departure. Both the players remain in India,” an Indian Olympic Association official told Press Trust of India.

Both players are yet to be named and it is understood that they will only be able to join the squad once they test negative.

Women’s cricket is making its debut at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Harmanpreet Kaur is going to lead the Indian team, with Smriti Mandhana being her deputy. Due to the paucity of time, it is highly likely that both the players will miss India’s clash against World Champions Australia. India have been placed alongside Australia, Pakistan and Barbados in Group A.

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After taking on Australia, the Kaur-led side will then take on arch-rivals Pakistan on July 31 and will then face Barbados on August 3.

In a press conference on Friday (July 22) ahead of CWG, Mandhana, the vice-captain of the team, had mentioned that the unit will seek inspiration from their past memories of the Commonwealth Games as well a historic moment at the Tokyo Olympics last year.

“We have all watched the Commonwealth Games and Olympics and we know the feeling when the Indian flag goes higher and we hear the national anthem. We are aiming for gold and we won’t just look for a podium finish because when the flag goes up and the national anthem is played, that is the best feeling. I had goosebumps when Neeraj Chopra got it in the Olympics. We now have the same opportunity, to do it in the Commonwealth Games.”