The first Test between India and Sri Lanka, which will begin in Mohali on Thursday, will be set to have fans inside the stadium, Board of Control for Cricket in India’s secretary Jay Shah has said in a statement. The match will be momentous as it is set to be Virat Kohli’s 100th Test.
As per the initial schedule for the two-match series, the first Test was to be played behind closed doors. But on Tuesday, BCCI Secretary Jay Shah was quoted as saying that the Punjab Cricket Association will be able to allow fans to watch the match.
“The first Test between India and Sri Lanka to be played at the Punjab Cricket Stadium in Mohali will not be held behind closed doors,” Shah told in a statement, as reported by PTI.
“The decision to allow spectators into the ground is one taken by State Cricketing Associations and in present circumstances, is based on various factors. I have spoken with the PCA office bearers and they have confirmed that cricket fans will be able to witness the historic moment of Virat Kohli playing his 100th Test match.”
In the build-up to the match, after earlier reports that the match was going to be played behind closed doors, a section of fans on Cricket Twitter started using hashtags asking for spectators to be allowed for Kohli’s milestone match.
Kohli is said to become the 71st male cricketer to play 100 Test matches.
Shah said that the recent ODI series against the West Indies was played behind closed doors in Ahmedabad, the dip in COVID-19 cases across the country allowed the hosting associations to permit crowds.
“Based on the advisories by the state health authorities, fans were able to witness the games in Kolkata and Dharamsala while UPCA had Lucknow T20I without crowds owing to polling a day before the match.
“I am really looking forward to Virat Kohli’s 100th Test and wish our champion cricketer the very best. This is an occasion for our fans to savour. May he continue to represent the country in many more matches to come,” he added.
The PCA also confirmed that spectators would be permitted in the Test match.
“The BCCI has told us to go ahead with 50 per cent crowd during the upcoming Test match. BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal had called us and informed that 50 per cent crowd will be allowed and we are now making necessary arrangements,” PCA treasurer RP Singla told PTI on Tuesday.
In a virtual press conference on Tuesday, before the latest announcement by Shah, India vice-captain Jasprit Bumrah was asked about the crowd capacity for the Mohali Test.
“See, right now we are in the frame of mind, where we are focussing on what we can control,” said the pacer.
“(If) the crowds come, it is good for the energy, but that is something that we cannot control, we don’t have any power regarding that, we don’t decide the rules.”
Bumrah added: “So, for us what we can control is our energy, so we are trying to focus on that, and that is the basic thing in everybody’s mind right now, that how do we prepare. We are in the best frame of mind, even if crowds are not there, so how do we keep that energy up. And with that, obviously, as I said, it is a big, big day, a big match for Virat Kohli.”
With PTI inputs