Tickets for the third India vs England Test, a day-night affair to be played with the pink ball in Ahmedabad from February 24, are already sold out, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly confirmed on Tuesday.
"Ahmedabad is totally sold out, the day-night Test match, because it's the first game there after a long period of time," Ganguly told Star Sports in an interview. "So, happy to see normalcy back. It'll be fantastic, it's sold out. I speak to Jay [Shah, the BCCI secretary] who's very keen on these Test matches. Just for him also cricket is coming back to Ahmedabad after six-seven years because they built the new stadium, and I've told him we've set an example with pink-ball Test last year in Calcutta [Kolkata], so it cannot go beyond that and we want to see every seat and stand full. And that's what it is, the tickets have gone, as well as for the T20s [which will follow the Tests].
"We wanted them (fans) back. We could have had them in the first Test in Chennai but we decided to go with the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association, who said let's see how it goes for the first one because it's our first game after a long time and we'll open it up for the second [Test for fans]."
The renovated Sardar Patel Stadium is now the world's largest cricket amphitheatre with a seating capacity of over 110,000, but is expected to fill only to 50% of the capacity, just like the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai for the second Test, because of concerns around Covid-19. Although the Indian government, in its directive issued in late January, had allowed outdoor sports events to have full-capacity crowds, the BCCI has decided to ease that measure by restricting the spectators at the venues during the England series to 50%.
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Ahmedabad last hosted international cricket in 2014 - an ODI between India and Sri Lanka - and will also host the fourth India vs England Test from March 4 and all five T20Is on March 12, 14, 16, 18 and 20 before the three ODIs are played in Pune.
Ganguly also confirmed that day-night Test matches would be played in every home series going forward. "Absolutely. One Test a series is ideal. Every generation goes through changes, pink ball is one of the main changes for Test match cricket, and to keep Test match cricket alive," he said. "I think with Ahmedabad packed stadium in the next week will be another great sight for everyone.
"I know the Gujarat Cricket Association will add a bit more to the cricket, not just with the game but a lot of other things around the game. It's going to be a great Test match for everyone."
There are also plans for spectators for the 2021 IPL, which the BCCI is hoping to host in India, and not in the UAE like in 2020. "This year is going to be big as well because of what it is," Ganguly said. "We'll see whether we can get the crowd back into the IPL, it's a decision we'll have to take very shortly. But it's going to be another great tournament."
On the personal front, Ganguly, who had been hospitalised twice in Kolkata last month, said he was "fit and fine" and back at work. His bout of ill-health had coincided with part of the Indian team's historic Test series win in Australia. "I think Australia was remarkable," he said. "That'll always be very, very special. What they did in Australia gave all of us goosebumps. To watch that fight on the last day in Brisbane was remarkable."