Ravichandran Ashwin: India bowler taking break from IPL to ‘support family’ amid coronavirus pandemic

India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin says he is taking a break from the IPL to support his family as the country grapples with a massive surge in coronavirus cases.

Ashwin, who plays for Delhi Capitals in the T20 tournament, made the announcement on social media following his team’s Super Over victory against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Chennai on Sunday.

“My family and extended family are putting up a fight against Covid-19 and I want to support them during these tough times,” he wrote on Twitter.

“I expect to return to play if things go in the right direction. Thank you Delhi Capitals.”

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Ashwin said he would be stepping back from the IPL from Monday, and Delhi Capitals said they supported his decision.

“Extending our full support to you in these difficult times,” the franchise tweeted. “Sending you and your family all the strength and prayers from all of us at Delhi Capitals.”

India’s number of Covid-19 cases surged by 349,691 on Sunday, a new global record, and hospitals across the country are turning away patients after running out of medical oxygen and beds.

I would be taking a break from this years IPL from tomorrow. My family and extended family are putting up a fight against #COVID19 and I want to support them during these tough times. I expect to return to play if things go in the right direction. Thank you @DelhiCapitals 🙏🙏

Australia leg-spinner Adam Zampa and fast bowler Kane Richardson have joined compatriot Andrew Tye in cutting short their IPL season and heading home.

Tye, who was with the Rajasthan Royals, flew to Sydney on Sunday via Mumbai and Doha, citing the “stress of bubble life” and concerns about borders closing in Australia.

“I just thought I should try and get on the front foot and get home before I got locked out of the country,” he told Australian radio station SEN.

“I think I’ve had 11 days at home and out of the bubble since August.

“There’s definitely concerns,” Tye added. “A lot of guys have been in touch today once they’ve realised I was leaving.

“Some of the guys are very interested in what route I took home and how I approached it.

“I’m not sure if I’ll be the only one (returning), but that’s too early for me to say.”

Zampa and Richardson have now decided to follow suit, with Royal Challengers Bangalore on Monday saying they were unavailable for the rest of the IPL season and were returning to Australia for “personal reasons”.

“Royal Challengers Bangalore management respects their decision and offers them complete support,” the franchise said on Twitter.

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A number of Australia’s top cricketers remain in India, including batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner, and paceman Pat Cummins.

Australia said last week it would cut flights from India and reduce the number of its citizens able to return from other red-zone countries to contain the risk of more virulent strains of Covid-19 spreading.

Australia has largely eliminated Covid-19 by closing its borders and installing snap lockdowns when cases of community transmission occur.

Governing body Cricket Australia and the Australian players union said they were in “regular contact” with Australian players, coaches and commentators at the IPL.

“We will continue to listen to feedback from those on the ground in India and the advice of the Australian government,” the bodies said in a joint statement.

Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting, who coaches the IPL’s Delhi Capitals, suggested he would not be among those to pull out of the league.

“Even with the country being in a situation that it is, I think cricket can still bring a lot of joy to people,” he said.

“So it is important for us to be doing what we can as cricketers and as coaches and as a franchise to putting on the best show as possible to give the people something that they’d like to see.”

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