UNDER-FIRE cricket chiefs have vowed to carry on with the IPL — despite India being ravaged by the Covid pandemic.
There have been calls for the lucrative T20 tournament to be postponed with a staggering 17.3MILLION Indians infected with the killer coronavirus.
The nation’s number of cases surged by 349,691 on Saturday — a new global record — and the death toll now stands at a tragic 194,797.
Hospitals across the country are turning away patients after running out of oxygen and beds.
And crematoriums are creaking under the sheer number of dead bodies waiting to be burned.
Indian spinner Ravi Ashwin, 34, said: “It’s heart-breaking to see what’s happening around my country. This is a virus that spares no one and I am in this fight with all of you.
“I promise to help anyone that is within my capacity.”
Former Aussie wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist, 49, tweeted: “Frightening Covid numbers. IPL continues. Inappropriate? Or important distraction? Whatever your thoughts, prayers are with you.”
A competition spokesperson said: “The IPL provides a much-needed distraction from the doom and gloom around us.
“Yes, cases have surged in venues like Delhi, but we have two standby venues in Hyderabad and Indore and we would use them if needed.”
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A host of England cricketers, including white-ball skipper Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes and Sam Curran are playing in the competition.
Indian legend MS Dhoni’s parents are both in hospital battling the disease.
Some newspapers in the country have decided to suspend their IPL coverage in protest.
However, games are scheduled to go ahead in Delhi and Ahmedabad this week.
Delhi & Districts Cricket Association president Rohan Jaitley insisted: “The bubble is absolutely intact.
“If I am not part of the bubble, I can’t meet anybody inside it. It is absolutely safe.”
Delhi Capitals coach and former Australia captain Ricky Ponting, 46, admitted: “This IPL has become more about what’s happening outside.
“We are probably the safest people in the country being in bubbles. So it is really important we are thinking about the extended family.
“We have got to be talking about what’s happening outside, because it is quite grim.”
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