The first two matches of the upcoming 4-match Test series between India and England will be played behind closed doors – no spectators will be allowed at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.
Also known as the Chepauk stadium, the home ground of IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings will host the first half of the Test series. The first Test will be played from February 5 to 9 and the second Test from February 13 to 17.
The next couple of Tests are slated to be played at the newly built 110,000-seater Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad. The third Test of the series is a Day-night affair to be played with the pink ball. It is believed that some crowd could be allowed in Ahmedabad.
According to the news agency, ANI, The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) has taken the decision that no tickets would be put on sale and the first two Tests will not host any crowd. In the circular the TNCA secretary, RS Ramasaamy has instructed its members that the decision has been taken in view of the existing situation of the COVID-19 pandemic in Tamil Nadu.
The players will undergo quarantine and a thorough round of testing before entering the bio-bubble.
“In view of the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic, BCCI has decided not to take any kind of risk with the safety of the players during the forthcoming India-England Test series. The players, officials will be undergoing strict quarantine and several rounds of COVID-19 tests before entering the bio-bubble. As per BCCI directive, the first two Tests between February 5-17 being held at MA Chidambaram Stadium will take place behind closed doors. TNCA will not be issuing tickets or sub-committee badges,” Ramaswamy wrote as quoted by ANI.
Team India strengthened by the return of Virat Kohli, Hardik Pandya, and Ishant Sharma
The BCCI has announced the squad for the first couple of Tests against England. India is bolstered by the return of Virat Kohli, who missed three Tests against Australia as he returned home to attend the birth of his child. Ishant Sharma, who missed the entire Australia tour also returns.
A notable return is of Hardik Pandya, who may play solely as a batsman. Pandya hasn’t donned the whites for India since the 2018 England tour. Axar Patel replaced injured Ravindra Jadeja, while Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav missed out due to injuries, and Prithvi Shaw is dropped after his low scores in Australia.