CHANDIGARH: The Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) has decided to open the gates for spectators at 50% capacity for the upcoming first Test between India and Sri Lanka, which will be Virat Kohli’s 100th for India.
The state association had earlier announced a complete ban on spectators despite cases of Covid-19 being on the decline in these parts. However, on Tuesday, the PCA took the call after fans continued to throng the stadium for a glimpse of their favourite cricketers during the nets session.
“Keeping in mind all Covid-19 protocols, the PCA has got the Indian cricket board’s (BCCI) nod to allow spectators at 50% capacity for the first Test. With the decreasing number of Covid-19 cases in the city, the PCA has decided to also open online sale of tickets for the game,” PCA treasurer RP Singla told TOI on Tuesday.

“Also, with Punjab going through polls, we will have to keep everything in mind in terms of security and crowd safety. We are also ensuring all possible steps to curb the spread of Covid-19 virus,” he added.
The official further said that the decision was taken considering the “sentiment of the fans eager to watch Kohli” playing his 100th Test. For the third consecutive day, many young fans were seen waiting for hours in anticipation of catching a glimpse of their favourite cricketers.

The Indian cricket board (BCCI) also released a statement, with secretary Jay Shah confirming the development.
“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,” Shah said.

The PCA is also planning to felicitate the star cricketer and is coordinating with the national cricket board on the same. The BCCI top brass is also expected to be present on the occasion.
“Regarding that (felicitation), we are currently coordinating with the BCCI as the team is in a strict bio bubble, due to which there is a high chance that a physical felicitation will not be possible. So we are trying to find an alternative to hand Kohli our token of appreciation,” Singla said.
The ex-captain will become only the 12th Indian to achieve the feat after Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble, Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Sourav Ganguly, Ishant Sharma, Harbhajan Singh, and Virender Sehwag. The second Test, a pink-ball affair, will also be played with 50% crowds at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.

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