India are worried about jeopardising their upcoming home series against England if they do end up travelling to Brisbane for the fourth and final Test on their tour of Australia, starting January 19. That is one of the key issues outlined by the team management and the BCCI in their communication with Cricket Australia this week, ESPNcricinfo understands.
Over the past few weeks, the Indian team management has expressed its reluctance to travel to Brisbane more than once, mainly because of the hard quarantine protocol put in place by the Queensland government to deal with the Covid-19 situation. And now, with Brisbane under a three-day lockdown because one person is reported to have caught the new UK strain of the virus, the BCCI and the Indian team management are concerned about the impact on the home series, which is scheduled to start on February 5.
If India travel to Brisbane, the BCCI fears the contingent might have to serve the mandatory two-week quarantine of the Indian government upon their return as well as the quarantines put in place by state governments for inbound travellers from countries with the UK strain of the virus. India are scheduled to fly out of Australia the day after the end of the Test series on January 19.
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The other reason for the Indians' concern, as reported earlier, is the possibility that they would be placed under severe restrictions during the Test in Brisbane, with the Queensland government's rule forcing them to only leave the team hotel for training and the match itself.
Earlier this week, the BCCI told Cricket Australia that it would not agree to players' movement being limited to the team hotels. Cricket Australia, which has booked hotels exclusively for the teams in both Sydney, where the third Test is currently on, and Brisbane, has in reply pointed out that the teams were free to mill around within the hotel in designated areas.
It is understood that Cricket Australia has also told BCCI that it was tough for it to find a replacement venue for the final Test considering most Test grounds across Australia have been hosting the Big Bash League matches. Another significant challenge of finding an alternate venue is that exemptions would be required to travel to a state other than Queensland, which the CA feels is impossible given the constraints.
The Indian team has suggested staying on in Sydney. However, it is understood that no request to prepare a second pitch at the SCG - the only viable venue should the Test need to be moved out of Brisbane - has been made yet.
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo
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