• Rishabh Pant is believed to have contracted the Delta variant
  • He will not travel to Durham on Thursday
  • India and England are set to play a five-match Test series, starting next month

In an early setback for Team India, wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the five-match Test series against England, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) confirmed Thursday.

Pant is "asymptomatic" and has been in isolation for the last eight days, reported ESPNCricinfo.

Following the loss in the World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand last month, the Indian cricket team was been on a break and outside the bio-bubble. The players and the support staff were asked to assemble in Durham on Thursday for the preparations ahead of the first Test, which is due to begin on Aug. 4 in Nottingham. However, Pant, who is believed to have contracted the Delta variant, won't travel to Durham.

"He is in quarantine at an acquaintance's place and won't be traveling with the team to Durham on Thursday," an unnamed BCCI source told local news agency PTI, ESPNCricinfo reported. The International Business Times could not verify it independently.

Pant's return date is still not known. Apart from Pant, one more player had also reportedly tested positive. But the player recently returned a negative result, according to another news agency ANI. His identity was not revealed.

"Luckily, there is nothing to worry about as one of the players has already returned negative since testing positive, the other player will be tested on Sunday and is currently in isolation. He is asymptomatic as well and we are confident that he can join the camp soon after negative reports," the source told ANI.

BCCI secretary Jay Shah recently sent an email to the Indian contingent in the U.K., warning them about the spike in COVID-19 cases in the country. He asked the players and support staff to not attend recently concluded sporting events such as Euros 2020 and Wimbledon.

However, the members of the Indian team did not adhere to that and were spotted at those events. While head coach Ravi Shastri and Ravichandran Ashwin went to watch Wimbledon, fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah and Pant attended Euros 2020 matches.

Rishabh Pant scored a match-winning 89 not out
Rishabh Pant scored a match-winning 89 not out AFP / Patrick HAMILTON

The five Tests between India and England are scheduled to be played at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, Lord's in London, Headingley in Leeds, Kennington Oval in London and Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester.

Ahead of the Test series, which is India's first outing of the 2021-23 World Test Championship (WTC) cycle, Virat Kohli's India will play a warm-up game from July 20 to 22 against a County Championship XI team, which is being arranged by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) after a request from the BCCI.