In what comes as a huge positive for cricket fanatics in the country, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is keen to get fans back to the stadium for the T20I series between India and England which gets underway at the Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad from March 12.
Speaking to ANI, a BCCI official in the know of developments said while the board is looking to open the stadium in Ahmedabad to fans, the final decision still lies with the government.
"We are trying to open the stadium for fans to witness what awaits to be a thrilling T20I series between India and England. While we are yet to decide on the numbers, the idea is to get close to 50 per cent of the seats filled. But the final decision lies with the government. Safety is a priority even as we adapt to the new normal," the official said.
The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) has already informed its members that no tickets would be put on sale for the first two Tests between India and England at the MA Chidambaram Stadium as both the games will be played behind closed doors.
In the circular, accessed by ANI, TNCA secretary RS Ramasaamy has notified the members that the decision has been taken keeping in mind the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic.
"In view of the prevailing COVID-19 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 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," he wrote. "TNCA will not be issuing tickets or sub-committee badges."
The first Test will be played from February 5 to 9 and the second one from February 13 to 17. The teams will then move to Ahmedabad for the next two Test matches - February 24-28 and March 4-8.
The Indian selectors led by Chetan Sharma on Tuesday named the squad for the first two Tests against England. Virat Kohli, Hardik Pandya, and Ishant Sharma have made their way back into the squad. KL Rahul has been picked subject to fitness.
While Kohli was set to return after missing the three Tests against Australia as he had taken paternity leave, Hardik's inclusion comes on the back of him working overtime on his fitness after returning from the Australia limited-overs series. His inability to bowl was a major concern for the team management.
Ishant, who had missed the Tests against Australia has also made his way back into the squad on the back of some quality performance in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. While it is a T20 tournament, it showed that he is match-fit. Spinner Axar Patel has also made his way into the Test squad for the first two matches while T Natarajan who played his debut Test against Australia has not been included for the England Tests.