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Omicron scare hampers India tour of SA, 4 T20Is to be played later

New Delhi : The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Secretary Jay Shah on Saturday announced that India would tour South Africa for three-Test and three ODIs, while the originally planned four T20Is will now be played later.

“BCCI has confirmed CSA that the Indian team will travel for three Tests and three ODIs. The remaining four T20Is will be played at a later date,” Shah told media. Earlier, media had reported that India’s tour of South Africa might be pushed back by one week due to the threat of COVID-19 Omicron variant.

A BCCI official on Thursday had confirmed to media that both boards are in constant touch and the decision will be taken keeping the safety of players in mind.

“We are discussing to push back the series by a week due to the threat of Omicron COVID variant and we are awaiting the Indian government nod, both boards are in constant touch and everything is being discussed. The health and safety of our players is of utmost importance,” the senior official had told media.

India was originally slated to tour South Africa for three Tests, three ODIs and four T20Is. The tour right now is slated to begin on December 17.

Earlier, Anurag Thakur, the Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports had said that BCCI should consult the government before sending the cricket team to South Africa where a new COVID-19 variant has emerged.

“Not only BCCI, but every board should also consult the Indian government before sending the team to a country where a new COVID-19 variant has emerged. It is not right to send the team to a country where there is a threat, if BCCI consults us we will deliberate on that,” Thakur had told ANI here in Baghpat.

The World Health Organization (WHO) named the new COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529, which has been detected in South Africa, as ‘Omicron’. This came after the WHO held a meeting to discuss the newly-identified COVID-19 variant.

Meanwhile, India A players are currently in Bloemfontein for the ongoing series against South Africa A.