Indian Premier League

SA stars fly home after virus surge forces IPL postponement

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Kagiso Rabada (AFP)
Kagiso Rabada (AFP)
Manjunath KIRAN / AFP

A day following the Indian Premier League (IPL) postponement, South Africa's top cricketers are on their way back home.

The IPL was suspended on Tuesday after several positive coronavirus cases popped up in the tournament's bio-secure bubble.

A dire situation is currently unfolding in India as the country reported more than 20 million infections so far, with over 220 000 deaths as of 5 May.

Cricket authorities from Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa rushed to evacuate their top players from India.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) stated on Tuesday that it was in contact with its players and support staff, working to bring them home.

The travel arrangements for the players were made by their respective franchises, the BCCI and the IPL.

Eleven South Africans were in India for this year's edition of the IPL - AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Kagiso Rabada, Quinton de Kock, Lungi Ngidi, Chris Morris, Anrich Nortje, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Marco Jansen and Gerald Coetzee.

On Wednesday afternoon, Proteas fast bowler Lungi Ngidi's Instagram stories showed the Chennai Super Kings star on a Qatar Airways flight.

CSA Director of Cricket Graeme Smith will hold a press conference on Thursday to expand on the players' well-being from the Covid-hit T20 tournament.

"Those travelling back to South Africa will undergo home quarantine in line with the current World Health Organisation recommendations," said a CSA press release.

Ngidi was one of the four South African stars who took to social media to extend their well wishes and prayers as they departed.

"May the lord be with everyone in these tough times #prayforindia," wrote Ngidi, who took five wickets in his three games.

Du Plessis starred with the bat for the Chennai Super Kings as he momentarily held the Orange Cup during the short IPL campaign.

The former Proteas captain finished as the third-highest run-scorer as he scored 320 runs - including four half-centuries - in his seven IPL games.

"Sad leaving the @iplt20 and the @chennaiipl family. Team was on fire this season," wrote Du Plessis on Instagram.

"My constant prayers is with the people from India to get through this. Pls Take care of yourselves."

Rabada stated in his Instagram post that it was a "real pity" to leave after taking eight wickets in his seven games for the Delhi Capitals.

"A real pity the @iplt20 had to come to an end so early. As always I have enjoyed being apart of the @delhicapitals environment, my home in India! I hope everyone keeps safe. Until next time," said Rabada.

Fast bowler Nortje did not feature in Delhi Capitals' eight games this season despite being in India for the tournament.

"India, I know the times are harder than ever, but now, more than ever, we need to stay strong and stay together. Wish you nothing but love. Stay safe," wrote Nortje.

The Capitals finished on top of the IPL log on 12 points, Chennai Super Kings were second and Mumbai Indians third - both on 10 points. 

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