Closed-doors Tests, three rounds of Covid testing in the lead-up to the first game, team hotel blocked for outsiders – India’s home international season is set to commence in a fortnight.

After a gap of nearly a year-and-a-half – the last home Test was played in November 2019 – India would be hosting a home Test series, and the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) secretary RS Ramasaamy confirmed that the first two Tests of the four-match series against England, to be played in Chennai, would be held behind closed doors.

“We have been instructed (by the BCCI) that crowds would not be allowed. Not even the press would be allowed. That’s the situation now. We don’t know what the BCCI would decide in the future. As of now, all closed,” Ramasaamy said.

The BCCI, however, is not increasing the hosting fee for the staging association, which remains Rs 2.5 crore per game and without fans the TNCA would miss out on gate receipts – nearly Rs 1 crore over five days by a rough estimate.

The first two Tests of the

series would be played in Chennai followed by the next two in Ahmedabad. The series commences on February 5 and both India and England are scheduled to arrive in Chennai on January 27. They will enter the bio-bubble, with both teams to be put up in the same hotel.

“Both teams are staying at the Leela Palace. The entire hotel has been blocked; there will be no other guests in the hotel. They will follow the quarantine and bio-security protocols; not only the players and coaching staff and match officials, but everybody who will be involved with the Tests. Upon arrival, they will undergo Covid tests followed by two more rounds of testing (before the match). This is applicable to everybody, including some of the ground staff,” the TNCA secretary said.

Preparations have started and as Ramasaamy informed, five pitches will be kept ready at Chepauk. Chennai recently hosted the Plate Group matches of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and according to the official, “pitches will be good”. On Thursday, Chennai’s total Covid tally stood at 229,705.

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