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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Last three IND vs ENG T20Is behind closed doors

The third, fourth and fifth matches of the series, which is currently tied 1-1, on March 16,18 and 20 will be played without audience at Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty |
Updated: March 16, 2021 7:54:12 am
The Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad (BCCI)

The remaining three T20Is between India and England in Ahmedabad will be played behind closed doors, the BCCI has confirmed. The recent surge in Covid cases has prompted the cricket board, in consultation with the Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA), to take the decision and a communication in this regard has been sent to the England team as well. The five-match T20I series is currently level at 1-1, with the remaining three matches to be played on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

With the three ODIs in Pune that follow the T20I series to be held before empty stands as well, the remainder of England’s tour of India will be played without crowds. It also puts a big question mark over fan attendance in the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL), which commences on April 9.

“The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), in consultation with the Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA), has decided to conduct the final three T20Is against England at the Narendra Modi Stadium behind closed doors. The decision was arrived at following detailed discussions with the state and local health authorities,” said a BCCI release.

“The BCCI will continue to comply with all the regulations put in place to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus and will always put the health and safety of its fans and stakeholders at the top,” it added.

As per the Gujarat government website, the number of Covid cases has increased steadily over the last few days. On March 11, the number of active cases stood at 785 followed by 850 on March 13 and 909 on March 15.

“Due to rise in the number of Corona cases, we at GCA have decided in consultation with BCCI, the matches will be played closed door and not allow the spectators in the ground during T20 Internationals to be played between India and England at Ahmedabad,” GCA vice-president Dhanraj Nathwani said via a press release.

Those who have purchased the tickets will get a refund. “We will form the policy for refund of money to the spectators, who have already purchased the tickets for these three T20s. Those who have received complimentary tickets are requested not to visit the stadium,” Nathwani added.

Tickets were priced between Rs 500 and Rs 10,000.

The England team, meanwhile, has expressed confidence about the bio-security protocol in place for the players and support staff. “We have just received confirmation that the remaining T20I matches will take place without spectators. We have also seen the statement by the Vice-President of the Gujarat Cricket Association confirming the fact. Aside from meaning there will be considerably less noise in the stadium, it doesn’t materially affect us as we remain in our bubble and even when crowds were in attendance, we never came into contact with any of them, and the ball was sanitised whenever it was hit into the stands,” said an ECB release.

The GCA allowed 50 per cent stadium capacity to be occupied for the two Tests and five T20Is at the 1,10,000-seater Narendra Modi Stadium. Although the Tests didn’t see an average turnout of more than 15,000 per day, according to a GCA official, each of the first two T20Is had hosted around 55,000 fans.

In Covid times, the BCCI picked only three venues for England’s tour of India – Chennai, Ahmedabad and Pune – and the series started behind closed doors, as the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) didn’t allow crowds for the first Test. Stadium gates were thrown open for fans from the second Test onwards with a rider that only 50 per cent seating capacity would be used.

The Maharashtra government, however, had already decided that the three ODIs in Pune – on March 23, 26 and 28 – would be played without spectators in the wake of a huge Covid spike in the state. A PIB in Maharashtra tweet on Monday mentioned: “15,051 new cases have been reported in the state today”.

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