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India vs England: No crowd allowed at Chepauk for first two Tests

Photo courtesy: BCCI

The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) has made it clear that the first two Tests between India and England will be played behind closed-doors at the MA Chidambaram stadium, which is also known as Chepauk. The series commences on February 5 and both the teams are scheduled to arrive in Chennai on January 27.

“We have been instructed [by the BCCI] that crowds would not be allowed. Not even the press would be allowed. That’s the situation now. We don’t know what the BCCI would decide in the future. As of now, all closed,” TNCA secretary RS Ramasaamy has been quoted saying by The Indian Express.

Upon arrival in Chennai, both the Indian and English contingents along with the match officials and other stakeholders will enter the bio-secure bubble at the same hotel. The entire premises has been booked by the TNCA as no other guests will be allowed to enter the hotel during the period the teams will stay in the Southern Indian city.

“Both teams are staying at the Leela Palace. The entire hotel has been blocked; there will be no other guests in the hotel. They will follow the quarantine and bio-security protocols; not only the players and coaching staff and match officials, but everybody who will be involved with the Tests. Upon arrival, they will undergo Covid tests followed by two more rounds of testing [prior to the start of the match]. This is applicable to everybody, including some of the ground staff,” Ramasaamy explained.

The Indian government meanwhile, has recently ruled that outdoor sport can be conducted with spectators at 50% capacity. However, the BCCI and the TNCA are not willing to take any chances in this high-profile series against England, which is also India’s first international home series in this 2020-21 season.

However, it has been learnt that the Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA), who is the host for the last two Tests of the series at the newly built Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad, is considering allowing some spectators during the matches. And one of those games will be a day-night one as well.

In 2020 the refurbished Motera was inaugurated by former US president Donald Trump. With a capacity of 110,000 Motera is currently the biggest-capacity ground in world cricket and as per a report in ESPNCricinfo, GCA is considering filling 20 to 30 percent of the stands.

Sandipan Banerjee is a senior cricket journalist with experience stretching across more than a decade. Having founded a number of cricket information resources and prior experience of working in big-ticket events like ICC Cricket World Cup, IPL and ICC Champions’ Trophy; he joined the team at in 2019 to provide strategic guidance and to assume a brand ambassador role as principal correspondent. Due to Sandipan’s commitment towards the game, it’s safe to assume that if India are involved in a Test, ODI or a T20I, he’ll be there covering the match! Partnership

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