Virus in India camp casting doubt on 5th test

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England players during a nets session before the 5th Test cricket match between England and India at Old Trafford cricket ground in Manchester, England, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — India canceled its last practice before the fifth test against England amid a new coronavirus scare on Thursday.

England batsman Jos Buttler said they have “fingers crossed” the final test will start on Friday as scheduled at Old Trafford.

India assistant physiotherapist Yogesh Parmar was the latest to test positive, forcing all of the tour party to isolate in their Manchester hotel on Thursday and await the results of a fresh batch of COVID-19 tests.

India is already without coach Ravi Shastri, bowling coach Bharath Arun, fielding coach R Sridhar and main physio Nitin Patel, who remain in London after testing positive during the fourth test India won on Monday at the Oval. They will miss the fifth test, and India is without a certified physio.

India leads the series 2-1 but positive tests among the players would not only affect the end of a gripping series. Many of the India players also star in the Indian Premier League which is due to resume on Sept. 19 in the United Arab Emirates after being cut short by the virus in May.

England completed its preparations on Thursday for the fifth test.

“We're fully expecting the game to go ahead and we're preparing to play tomorrow,” Buttler said. "Fingers crossed the game will go ahead.

“We don't know too much to be honest. It would be naive to speculate too much on stuff I don't know about. Things are all fine in our camp.”

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