New Delhi– The first Test between India and Sri Lanka, which will be Virat Kohli’s landmark 100th match and is scheduled to be played in Mohali from March 4, will have spectators, the BCCI secretary Jay Shah confirmed on Tuesday.
The 33-year old Kohli, who made his Test debut against the West Indies at Kingston in 2011, has scored 7962 runs from 99 red-ball matches. During the upcoming Mohali Test, he will become the 12th Indian to play 100 Tests after Sachin Tendulkar (200), Rahul Dravid (163), VVS Laxman (134), Anil Kumble (132), Kapil Dev (131), Sunil Gavaskar (125), Dilip Vengsarkar (116), Sourav Ganguly (113), Ishant Sharma (105), Harbhajan Singh (103), and Virender Sehwag (103).
Notably, the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) had confirmed last week that the 1st Test in Mohali will be played without spectators due to the Covid-19 restrictions. However, the BCCI Secretary said in a statement on Tuesday that cricket fans will be able to witness the historic moment of Kohli playing his 100th Test match.
“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. 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,” said Jay Shah in a statement.
Shah also said though the recent white-ball series against the West Indies was played behind closed doors, the dip in Covid-19 cases across the country allowed the hosting associations to permit crowds.
“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. 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,” he said.
“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,” he added.
Earlier in the day, RP Singhla, the treasurer of the PCA, confirmed that online ticket sales would open on Wednesday.
“We got the communication from the BCCI about allowing fans at 50% capacity for the first Test match between India and Sri Lanka at Mohali starting March 4. So far, we will allow the 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,” Singla told the Indian Express.
India will play the second and final Test of the series in Bangalore from March 12 where 50 percent of crowds are being permitted. (IANS)