UAE's ODI series against Ireland in doubt after fourth positive case of Covid-19

Emirates Cricket Board suspended second match in Abu Dhabi the night before the game

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The remainder of UAE’s one-day international series with Ireland is in doubt due to the effects of coronavirus on the national team.

It was confirmed late on Monday night that the second one-day international between the two sides in Abu Dhabi had been suspended for a second time, after a fourth positive Covid case in the home team.

“Emirates Cricket Board has confirmed that [Tuesday’s] match in the ODI Series 2021 against Ireland has been suspended,” the board wrote in a statement at 10.23pm the night before the game.

“This decision, supported by Cricket Ireland, was made after a new directive was received from authorities.

“This followed over 48 hours of self-isolation by the UAE team after four reported positive cases of Covid-19.

“Additionally, the directive from the authorities requires the UAE team to remain in quarantine for an extended period of time.

“Discussions are continuing with all concerned parties, including the relevant authorities, regarding rescheduling of the remaining matches.

"A decision will be made and communicated once an agreement has been reached and approved.”

The fixture had already been delayed by two days after Alishan Sharafu had become the third UAE player to test positive for Covid-19. The identity of the fourth case has not been revealed.

Before a ball had been bowled in the series, Chirag Suri and Aryan Lakra had been put into isolation after testing positive for coronavirus.

Vice-captain Suri had received his results on Thursday January 7, while newcomer Lakra received his early the following morning, which was the day of the opening fixture.

Although those two cases were announced in the hours before the first match, the game still went ahead, with the UAE going on to take their first ODI win against the Irish.

As per the safety requirements for this series, all players are tested two days before each game.

Because the matches were scheduled to take place on alternate days, that meant they were all retested immediately after play on the first day.

Sharafu, who had made his ODI debut in that match on Friday, then tested positive when his result was returned after the swabs were taken on Friday.

It meant he spent his 18th birthday on Sunday – which was the day the second game was initially scheduled for – in medical quarantine.

When contacted on Sunday, the ECB decline to clarify the situation regarding the players, and explain who was deemed to be a close contact, given Sharafu had played a full part in the first match.

As with the first suspension of the game on Sunday, the announcement came via a statement late the night before the game was due to take place.

Ireland have not reported any positive tests, and they appeared to be expecting the rescheduled game to be going ahead as planned on Tuesday.

“While disappointing for players and fans alike, Cricket Ireland thanks the Emirates Cricket Board and Abu Dhabi Cricket for their transparency and cooperation at this time, and will continue to monitor the situation over coming days,” Ireland said.

“As always, the health and safety of players and support staff will remain Cricket Ireland’s priority.”