Tendulkar Digs Deep For India apos;s Coronavirus Fight

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MUMBAI, March 27 (Reuters) - Batting great Sachin Tendulkar has contributed 5 million rupees ($67,000) to India's fight against the coronavirus outbreak, a source close to the former cricketer has confirmed.

Tendulkar, who also took part in Australia's bushfire charity game in February, contributed 2.5 million rupees each to his state government of Maharashtra and the Prime Minister's relief fund, the source told Reuters.

The 46-year-old remains the world's leading run-scorer in tests and one-day internationals, with more than 34,000 runs and 100 centuries.

His 24-year career ended in 2013.

India has confirmed 724 infections, of which 17 have died. Globally, over 24,000 have died from the virus, according to a Reuters tally.

India has announced a lockdown of 21 days until April 14 to fight the virus, http://hsprint.com/xe/index.php?mid=board_sOYk04&document_srl=278857 which emerged in China late last year and has brought sporting events around the world to a halt.

The fate of the popular Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament, which was scheduled to being at the end of the month, remains unclear.

It has already been postponed until April 15 at the earliest.

While India's cricket board (BCCI), the richest cricket organisation in the world, has yet to announce any donations to the fight against the outbreak, its state units have come forward to help the national and regional governments.

The Mumbai Cricket Association gave 5 million rupees, the Saurashtra Cricket Association donated 4.2 million while the Cricket Association of Bengal contributed 2.5 million.

"Mumbai Cricket Association will support the Govt. of Maharashtra in any way possible in its fight against this pandemic," the association said.

BCCI chief and former captain Sourav Ganguly has promised to provide free rice worth 5 million rupees to those in need.

A number of Indian cricketers, including national team captain Virat Kohli, have also reached out to their followers on social media, urging them to not leave their homes for three weeks as mandated by the country's government.

Kohli and actress wife Anushka Sharma have a combined 142 million followers on Twitter and Instagram.

"These are testing times and we need to wake up to the seriousness of this situation," Kohli said in a video message.

"Please let us all follow what's been told to us and stand united, please. It's a plea to everyone. Stay at home and save your family from coronavirus."

Athletes from other disciplines have also made financial contributions while some have pledged their salaries to the government to provide relief measures.

($1 = 74.8300 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Peter Rutherford)