One Australian has left the IPL, and several others could follow as India faces a rapidly escalating disaster.

Fast bowler Andrew Tye has become the first Australian to fly home from the Indian Premier League in the wake of that country’s rapidly escalating COVID-19 emergency.

India recorded 349,691 new infections yesterday, its sixth consecutive day of rising case numbers, with suggestions the real figures are much higher.

Delhi Capitals coach Ricky Ponting says the situation outside the IPL bubble is “quite grim” amid reports other players are considering leaving the tournament early to avoid being locked out of Australia.

Steve Smith, David Warner and Pat Cummins are amongst the Australians currently in India.

Despite the horrific scenes being played out around India, the IPL is continuing in a bio-secure bubble, even as the death toll climbs alarmingly.

Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who plays under Ponting at Delhi, announced this morning he’ll be stepping away from the tournament to look after his family.

“I would be taking a break from this years IPL from tomorrow,” he tweeted.

“My family and extended family are putting up a fight against #COVID19 and I want to support them during these tough times. I expect to return to play if things go in the right direction.

“Thank you @DelhiCapitals.”

Earlier, Tye’s Rajasthan Royals franchise confirmed his departure in a tweet.

“AJ Tye flew back to Australia earlier today due to personal reasons,” it said.

“We will continue to offer any support he may need.”

Kolkata Knight Riders mentor David Hussey told The Age and Sydney Morning Herald that other Australian players were anxious about the possibility of being stranded.

“I dare say there’ll be a few other Australians a bit nervous about getting back into Australia,” he said.

“It puts a lot of things in perspective. We actually discussed after the game last night, how lucky we are to play the game and try to entertain people around the world.”

As the Indian health system struggles to keep up with the number of patients, the IPL has come under fire for almost ignoring the unfolding humanitarian disaster, although yesterday’s match between Chennai and Bangalore was preceded by a reminder about social-distancing, masks and sanitising.

Ponting’s Delhi side sits in second place on the ladder, but he admits that on-field performances are secondary in the current situation.

“This IPL, probably more than any other, has become more about what’s happening outside than what’s happening here,” he said.

“It is really important, we are thinking about the extended family, not just us, but we’ve got to be talking about what’s happening outside because it is quite grim.

“Even with the country being in a situation that it is, I think cricket can still bring a lot of joy to people.

“It is important for us to be doing what we can as cricketers and as coaches and as a franchise to putting on the best show as possible to give the people something that they’d like to see.”

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