Sunrisers Hyderabad have signed up 21-year-old Jammu & Kashmir medium-pacer Umran Malik as a "short-term Covid-19 replacement" for T Natarajan, who had to be placed in isolation after testing positive for the virus before the start of the team's game against Delhi Capitals on September 22. Malik has been with the Sunrisers team as a net bowler in the UAE.
Malik has played just one T20 and one List A game in the Indian domestic circuit, after making his debut for the state team earlier this year. The T20 game was against Railways in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, where he picked up 3 for 24 from his four overs in a seven-wicket loss for his team, while the List A appearance was in the Vijay Hazare Trophy against Bengal, where he conceded 98 runs from his ten overs for one wicket as Jammu and Kashmir conceded 368 runs and lost by 82 runs.
Under IPL guidelines, franchises are allowed to sign short-term replacement players during the absence of a regular squad member, so Malik will "only be a part of the Sunrisers side until Natarajan recovers and is allowed to join the team", an IPL statement confirmed.
Earlier this year, during the first leg of the IPL when it was played in India, bowling allrounder Shams Mulani became a short-term recruitment for the Delhi Capitals in similar circumstances when Axar Patel tested positive for Covid-19.
Natarajan went into isolation along with six other members of the Sunrisers contingent - including allrounder Vijay Shankar and net bowler G Periyaswamy - who were identified as his close contacts on September 22. The game between Sunrisers and Capitals was, however, allowed to go ahead on schedule.
All participants in the IPL had to quarantine for six days upon arriving in the UAE, and undergo testing every two days in the first week, and every fifth day from the second week. According to the guidelines in place for the IPL, anyone testing positive for Covid-19 must isolate for a minimum of ten days. They can then rejoin the team's bubble after clearing two tests, on days nine and ten.
This is the second time during the course of the two-part IPL 2021 that a Sunrisers player has tested positive for Covid-19. In May, wicketkeeper-batter Wriddhiman Saha had to isolate for two weeks in Delhi after returning a positive test.