MELBOURNE: Royal Challengers Bangalore duo Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson arrived home in Australia on Thursday, cutting short their Indian Premier League (IPL) stints amid growing concerns over India’s Covid-19 crisis.

The pair, plus compatriot Andrew Tye of Rajasthan Royals, have left the Twenty20 tournament as India continues to grapple with coronavirus infections which crossed 18 million on Thursday.

There were concerns the Bangalore duo could be stranded after the Australian government suspended flights from India until May 15 to prevent virulent Covid-19 variants from entering the country via .

“Thanks to everyone for the messages of concern. Kane and I have both reached Melbourne safe and sound,” Zampa, 29, said in a statement issued by the Bangalore franchise.

He thanked the Bangalore management for being ‘fully supportive’ of their decision to leave the tournament, which is being played in a bio-bubble atmosphere and without spectators.

Zampa said leaving IPL was his ‘personal choice’ and hoped the eight-team competition would continue as planned.

“I believe the tournament is in great hands and will definitely see the finish line,” said the spinner.

Earlier, fellow Australian, Kolkata Knight Riders’ speedster Pat Cummins, said suspending the IPL was not the answer despite criticism of the league being played in the midst of India’s national crisis.

The Australian Cricketers’ Association said on Wednesday it was having ‘conversations’ with governing body Cricket Australia and the Australian government on how to repatriate cricketers from India at the end of the IPL.

The regular IPL season ends on May 23, with playoffs to follow before the final on May 30.

A senior Indian cricket board official said on Wednesday the IPL would continue as it was providing solace and entertainment to people during hard times.

Richardson and Zampa flew into Melbourne from Doha and are currently undergoing quarantine, according to Cricket.com.au.

Earlier this week Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a temporary ban on arrivals from India due to the worsening coronavirus outbreak, leaving thousands of Australians —including high-profile cricketers — stranded.

Fourteen of their compatriots remain in India with the league’s eight teams, including David Warner, Steve Smith, Cummins and Glenn Maxwell.

Morrison has so far rejected calls for charter flights to bring Australians home, with the ban set to remain in place until at least May 15.

Australian national broadcaster ABC reported the pair had not been given special permission to fly and had booked their flights to Doha within the existing rules.

The Australians’ exit comes as India’s daily death toll from Covid-19 climbed above 3,600, while the daily infection number hit a global record at more than 379,000.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India has said all players remaining in the country, who are isolated in bio-secure bubbles, are ‘totally safe’.

Published in Dawn, April 30th, 2021

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