The Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) have suffered a major blow as first-choice opener Devdutt Padikkal continues to remain COVID-positive and may miss the team's first two matches of IPL 2021. RCB play the season opener against defending champions Mumbai Indians on Friday (April 9).
Padikkal tested positive for the coronavirus on March 22, before the RCB squad was scheduled to assemble in Chennai for their first three matches. The 20-year-old southpaw didn’t join the team and has been undergoing self-isolation at his Bengaluru residence.
There was no change in his latest test results as well. He will undergo two more tests on Tuesday and Wednesday, and negative results will enable him to directly join the RCB bio-bubble in Chennai. While he won’t be part of the opening game, it is understood he will be in a race against time to attain full fitness before the second game against the Sunrisers Hyderabad on April 14.
An official statement from RCB confirmed the development late on Sunday night. It claimed that Padikkal – who was RCB’s highest run-getter in IPL 2020 with 473 runs – is “feeling well”.
“Devdutt Padikkal tested positive for COVID-19 on 22nd March 2021. He has been in mandatory quarantine at his residence in Bengaluru since then. Devdutt will be fit to join the RCB bio-bubble once his RT-PCR tests are negative, as per IPL protocol. RCB Medical team is in touch with Devutt ensuring his safety and well-being. He is feeling well and we can’t wait to have him join the squad,” read the RCB statement.
RCB's preparatory camp for IPL 2021 is in full swing under the guidance of director of cricket operations Mike Hesson and batting coach Simon Katich.
RCB might have to tweak their playing XI in Padikkal’s absence
RCB fans were licking their lips over the prospect of Devdutt Padikkal opening the batting with skipper Virat Kohli. Now that Padikkal hasn’t yet joined the squad, RCB are in a fix to rearrange their line-up for the Friday clash.
They have two potential openers in their ranks – Kerala’s upcoming star Mohammed Azharuddeen and the latest Kiwi sensation in Finn Allen, who was roped in as replacement for Aussie wicketkeeper-batsman Josh Philippe.
Notably, Azharuddeen starred in the 2021 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, in which he amassed 214 runs in just 5 matches including an unbeaten 137 off 54 balls against Mumbai.
Fin Allen, on the other hand, cracked a 29-ball 71 in the third T20I against Bangladesh last week. However, including the 21-year-old Kiwi would come at a cost, as RCB would then have to rejig their set of four overseas players along with their batting line-up.
The final call will be the RCB team management’s, and everyone else can only wish for Padikkal’s quick recovery.