The Indian players were distracted for a while after knowing that head coach Ravi Shastri had tested positive for Covid-19, batting coach Vikram Rathour has revealed.
In a virtual interaction with mediapersons at the end of fourth day’s play at The Oval, Rathour said: “Of course, we are missing them massively. Ravi bhai, Arun and Sridhar have been extremely important part of this set-up and they have done extremely well in the last 5-6 years. They have played a major role in the team doing well. But this is what it is. It is a fact that they are not here. So it was a bit of distraction in the morning. But we had a word, we spoke. We decided we need to focus on what is in our hand, which is cricket.”
“I think the boys did extremely well to not get distracted, because there was a potential to get distracted from the situation that happened last night. But a lot of credit should go to the boys. The way they handled themselves. We played as a team,” he added.
According to a statement from the Board of Control for Cricket in Indian (BCCI) earlier on Sunday, Shastri had returned positive for Covid-19 following which he had to be isolated alongwith bowling coach Bharat Arun, fielding coach R Sridhar and physiotherapist Nitin Patel.
The former India opening batsman also revealed that Shastri felt a bit of discomfort on Saturday night saying: “It was around 8 in the night yesterday, he was having a little bit of discomfort. So the medical team decided to go for a lateral flow test and it came positive and that is when we found out that he was positive. The close contacts were identified and isolated. We will wait for the medical team to let us know when they can join back.”
Although Shastri had tested positive however, the team was cleared for the ongoing fourth Test cricket match against hosts England as they had undergone two lateral flow tests — on Saturday night and on Sunday morning, respectively and had tested negative.
Earlier in the day, BCCI secretary Jay Shah had said that four members of Team India support staff will remain in isolation after Shastri’s lateral flow test returned positive.
“The BCCI Medical Team has isolated Mr Ravi Shastri, Head Coach, Mr B. Arun, Bowling Coach, Mr R. Sridhar, Fielding Coach, and Mr Nitin Patel, Physiotherapist as a precautionary measure after Mr Shastri’s lateral flow test returned positive last evening,” he said in a statement.
They had undergone RT-PCR tests and shall remain in the team hotel and will not travel with Team India until confirmation from the medical team.
Notably, the hosts were 77 for no loss in their second innings at the end of the fourth day and still needs 291 runs to register a win.
The five-match Test rubber is currently levelled at 1-1 with the visitors winning the second Test at Lord’s before the home side made a strong comeback in the third Test to win it by an innings and 76 runs.
The final match of the series will be held from September 10 at the Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester.