In a disappointing turn of events, the rising COVID-19 cases across India have led to the decision of holding the remaining T20I matches of the series behind closed doors, without fans. The decision to hold the matches without fans has been taken as a safety measure to prevent a COVID superspreader event from happening. India is witnessing a surge of cases, the like of which hasn’t been seen for over two months. India added 26,291 new cases in a day, the highest single day number since December. The country seems to be heading for a second wave as the curve is rising again. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is going to speak to the Chief Ministers of the country to assess the situation and take the necessary steps going forward. According to a source close to the decision making process: “Yes, we have decided that the remaining games will be played behind closed doors keeping in mind the safety of the cricket-loving fans and the players. Safety will always be the priority and this is an ever-evolving situation as we figure the way as we fight the virus.”
The England and Wales Cricket Board also issued a statement regarding the decision: “We have just received confirmation that the remaining T20I matches will take place without spectators. We have also seen the statement by the Vice-President of the Gujarat Cricket Association confirming the fact. Aside from meaning there will be considerably less noise in the stadium it doesn’t materially affect us as we remain in our bubble and even when crowds were in attendance we never came into contact with any of them, and the ball was sanitised whenever it was hit into the stands.”
The total count of cases in the country has reached 11,409,524 including 384,031 active cases and 11,025,493 recoveries. A total of 158,892 people have died as a result of the disease.
In the first T20I, a total of 67,532 people turned up to watch the match while in the second T20I, more than 66,000 turned up at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
What will happen to the people who bought tickets?
The Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) announced that the fans who bought the tickets will receive a full refund for the tickets that they have bought. GCA Vice President, Dhanraj Nathwani released a statement on the matter:
“We will form the policy for the refund of money to the spectators, who have already purchased the tickets for these three T20’s. Those who have received complimentary tickets are requested not to visit the stadium.”
While a lack of fans will definitely affect the atmosphere of the match, the series is still expected to be an exciting affair. After a dismal start to the series, India bounced back behind debutant Ishan Kishan’s 56 and captain Virat Kohli’s 73 to easily dispatch England by seven wickets to tie the series up. The pivotal third T20I is bound to be an exciting affair, and a safer one because of the new decision to keep fans out of the stands.