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The first India-Sri Lanka Test match in Mohali will now be open to spectators, who will be allowed to fill the PCA Stadium to 50% capacity.
The match - which is set to be Virat Kohli's 100th Test - was initially scheduled to be played behind closed doors due to Covid-19 restrictions. Three days before the start of the match, however, the BCCI has confirmed that spectators will be allowed to attend it.
"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," BCCI secretary Jay Shah said in a statement. "The decision to allow spectators into the ground is one taken by the State Cricketing Associations and in the 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."
The statement suggested the decision was taken based on the decline in Covid-19 cases around the country. The third wave of the pandemic peaked in January in India, and the three-match ODI series against West Indies in early February was played behind closed doors in Ahmedabad. The T20I leg of the series in Kolkata, however, was opened up to crowds, as were the second and third T20Is against Sri Lanka in Dharamsala. The first T20I in Lucknow, however, was played behind closed doors because of the state elections that were taking place in Uttar Pradesh.
"While we started off the West Indies Tour of India behind closed doors, the encouraging dip in COVID-19 cases allowed the hosting associations to permit crowds," Shah's statement said. "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."
RP Singhla, the treasurer of the PCA, told the Indian Express that online ticket sales would open on Wednesday.
"We got the communication from BCCI about the allowing of fans at 50% capacity for the first Test match between India and Sri Lanka at Mohali starting March 4," Singhla said. "So far, we will allow online sale of tickets from Wednesday onwards as it becomes crowded at the ticket counters at the stadium. Fans will be there to watch Virat Kohli play his 100th Test match and PCA will ensure that all Covid-19 protocols are followed."