India cricket chiefs offered to reschedule the fifth Test against England on Friday after it was “jointly decided” to cancel the match just over two hours before the scheduled start of play over coronavirus fears.
The tourists were 2-1 up in the five-match contest after a 157-run win in the fourth Test and were bidding to complete a notable double just months after winning a series in Australia.
The status of the Old Trafford Test — and the five-match series — remains uncertain after the England and Wales Cricket Board retracted an initial statement that India had “forfeited” the match.
“The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) along with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have jointly decided to call off the fifth Test match scheduled at Manchester in India’s ongoing tour of England 2021,” the BCCI said in a statement.
The BCCI said it had held talks with the ECB to find a way to play the game but Covid cases among backroom staff had forced their hand, adding that the wellbeing of players was “paramount”.
“In lieu of the strong relationship between BCCI and ECB, the BCCI has offered to ECB a rescheduling of the cancelled Test match,” the statement said.
“Both the boards will work towards finding a window to reschedule this Test match.”
Rescheduling the fifth Test is complicated by the imminent re-start of the lucrative Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament, which resumes in the United Arab Emirates on September 19.
The IPL, which started in India, was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year.