First two India-England Tests to be played behind closed doors
The first two Tests of the upcoming series between India and England will be played behind closed doors at the MA Chidambaram Stadium. A top official from the host association Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) confirmed the development on Friday. As per the TNCA secretary RS Ramasaamy, the decision has been taken as a part of the BCCI directive, considering the prevailing COVID-19 situation.
A circular dated January 20 has been sent out to the TNCA members. It states that the decision to play the matches behind closed doors was taken along with the BCCI. "In view of the prevailing COVID pandemic, the BCCI has decided not to take any kind of risk with the safety of the players during the forthcoming India-England Test series," the circular read.
"As per the BCCI directive, the first two Test matches between February 5 and February 17 being held at M A Chidambaram stadium will take place behind closed doors (No Spectators/Guests/Sub-Committee Members) as a preventive measure," the circular further added.
Recently, the Indian government announced that outdoor sporting events could be conducted with 50 per cent of spectators after following the Standard Operating Procedures. In this regard, a senior BCCI official, on Thursday, told PTI that the BCCI is likely to allow 50 per cent spectators for the four-Test series. However, now, the first two Tests will be played sans spectators to minimize risk.
The two teams are expected to reach Chennai by January 27 and undergo testing before entering the bio-bubble. Meanwhile, the opening Test will be played in Chennai from February 5-9. The second Test will begin on February 13 at the same venue. Notably, Ahmedabad will play host to the final two Tests from February 24-28 and March 4-8.
Both Chennai and Ahmedabad will have two separate bio-bubbles, while the teams will travel by chartered flight within the country. Besides the bio-bubbles, there will be a vacuum-sealed environment in place. This will be the first international series held in India after the COVID-enforced break.