India-England games go behind closed doors because of pandemic

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The Narendra Mdodi stadium in Ahmedabad will be without fans for India's final three T20s against England because of a surge in Covid-19 in the region

England's remaining three Twenty20 internationals against India will be played behind closed doors because of a surge in coronavirus cases, authorities said Monday.

India's cricket board said the 110,000 capacity Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad would be empty for the games on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

All five games are being played in the main city in Gujarat state. The series is so far level 1-1.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has become increasingly wary as Covid-19 cases have surged in many major cities in the past two weeks.

"The decision was arrived at following detailed discussions with the state and local health authorities," said a BCCI statement.

"The BCCI will continue to comply with all the regulations put in place to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus and will always put the health and safety of its fans and stakeholders at the top."

The 25,000-plus new cases reported each day across India since the weekend is the highest number since mid-December.

Numbers had been falling since September and India has embarked on a mass vaccination campaign but experts have blamed a slackening of social distancing and mask-wearing for the increase.

An England spokesman expressed confidence that the measure would not have an impact the team.

"Aside from meaning there will be considerably less noise in the stadium it doesn’t materially affect us," said the spokesman.

"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 stadium has put 55,000 tickets on sale for each game and the first two matches saw a big turnout.

tw/bsp