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India-England series heads behind closed doors following COVID spike

India’s final three Twenty20 cricket matches against England at Ahmedabad’s Narendra Modi Stadium this week will be held behind closed doors amid an increase in local COVID-19 cases.

The third match of the series is due to take place at the 110,000-seat stadium later today (Tuesday), with the fourth and fifth matches scheduled for Thursday and Saturday.

The decision to take the series behind closed doors comes after the second match on Sunday reportedly attracted a crowd of more than 66,000, which would mark the largest attendance in world sport since the onset of the pandemic last March.

The announcement was made yesterday following consultation between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA), which owns and operates the stadium.

Discussions were also held with state and local health authorities. The city of Ahmedabad is said to have had 530 active cases of COVID-19 as of 11am yesterday.

The BCCI said it would continue to comply with the regulations put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19, with the safety of fans and stakeholders deemed paramount. Fans who purchased tickets for any of the three matches will be refunded.

India and England will also meet in a series of three one-day internationals in Pune later this month and these matches are set to go ahead without fans.

Narendra Modi Stadium was allowed to open at 50% capacity for the first two T20 matches, as well as the two Test matches between India and England. The first T20 match attracted around 57,000 fans according to the GCA, with Sunday’s match said to have been attended by more than 66,000 spectators.

England won the first T20 match by eight wickets, with India winning the second by seven wickets.

Image: Gujarat Cricket Association