Virat Kohli and other India players take first jab of Covid-19 vaccination

Virat Kohli walks in for his covid-19 vaccination in Mumbai Getty Images

Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Cheteshwar Pujara and Shikha Pandey are among a batch of Indian cricketers to get their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

India's top cricketers are among several athletes in the country, including those who have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, to have started receiving their vaccines after the Indian government threw open the drive for those aged 18 and above from May 1.

The move comes a week after the BCCI was forced to postpone IPL 2021 due to several cases of Covid infections across teams. The Indian men's and women's teams are scheduled to leave for the UK on June 2 via a charter flight.

While the men's team will be on a three-and-a-half months-long tour, where they will first play the World Test Championship final against New Zealand (June 18-22) followed by a five-Test series against England in August-September, the women will play a one-off Test - their first in over six years - followed by a limited-overs series.

In a chat with ESPNcricinfo last month, Dave Musker, ICC's biosecurity head, had underlined the importance of players being vaccinated at the earliest.

"All the vaccines have a wide spread of efficacy against various mutations, but all of them do offer significant mitigation, in that you are unlikely to get very sick if you are vaccinated, regardless of mutations and variants," he had said.

"At some point there will be a phenomenon called 'vaccine escape' - the virus will mutate to a position where the current crop of vaccines will have limited impact upon transmission or effectiveness. That will happen, but that's why you are seeing so much about second-generation vaccination."

India is amid a second wave of the virus, recording in excess of 350,000 new cases every day over the last fortnight. A few prominent players, including Chetan Sakariya, Veda Krishnamurthy and Piyush Chawla have lost family members to the virus.