India's professional cricket league has "indefinitely suspended" its annual Twenty20 tournament as health authorities struggle with a rising COVID tide.
The India Premier League may have played and missed wanting to conclude the season as scheduled at the end of May - but these plans were derailed after two teams reported COVID cases among players.
"The tournament stands suspended. We are looking for another window," India Premier League chairperson Brijesh Patel told Reuters Tuesday. "Right now we can't say when we can reschedule it."
Many say it is too late: "There is a lack of empathy for dead bodies lying in crematoriums surrounding your stadium," cricket enthusiast and lawyer Rahul Verma told The New York Times. "This game, a gentleman's game, never was so grotesque."
While people were dying in lines to seek treatment, or dying at home because they couldn't reach treatment centers, India's professional cricket players had dedicated ambulances and special medical resources at their disposal.
These emergency vehicles could be used to save many lives every day, one cricket fan noted, instead of sitting outside stadiums on the chance a player catches ill.
"These players are thieves. Given a chance, they will rob wood from the cremations and sell it in the market," Ishan Singh from Delhi said.
"This is commercialism gone crass," daily newspaper The New Indian Express wrote in an editorial article last week as it vowed to suspend its cricket coverage until "a semblance of normalcy is restored" in the country.
India has been averaging nearly 3,000 deaths per day in recent weeks, though the number of new infections have been steadily dropping since the end of April when the country reported a record 400,000 cases, authorities said.
Official records of cases and fatalities are under intense scrutiny. Many observers believe the real number of infections and deaths due to the virus in India could be up to 10 times higher than reported.
Two Kolkata Knight Riders players and three members of Delhi's Chennai Super Kings team tested positive for the virus Monday.
It is a quick pivot for a sports association that had, until now, mostly ignored the pandemic wreaking havoc across the country.
Cricket matches have continued for the past month in Ahmedabad's 130,000-seat Narendra Modi Stadium - named for the current prime minister.
"You are bringing hope to millions of people," Hemang Amin, chief operating officer for the country's Board of Control of Cricket, wrote to players in an open letter last week. He called the games a much needed distraction as the country battles its worst COVID increase.