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SCG confirmation ends Melbourne bid to host third Test

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The SCG will host the third Test against India after Cricket Australia deemed it safe to play in Sydney after a marathon day of meetings. The decision puts to rest speculation that Melbourne would host the match after India squared the series 1-1 there yesterday.

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Cricket Australia’s board finally made the call late on Tuesday night, following a week of discussions over the location of the match, which appeared to be heading to the MCG due to Sydney’s COVID-19 outbreak, with even the NSW Government fearing Queensland’s border restrictions would hurt them.

But CA was able to ensure both the Sydney and Brisbane Test will be able to go ahead.

Significant biosecurity measures will be put into place and approved by Indian officials, while crowds are expected to be limited to 50 per cent.

“We are confident that both this match, and the fourth Test in Brisbane, will play out in a safe and successful manner,” interim Cricket Australia boss Nick Hockley said.

“And thus (it will) round out what has been a magnificent men’s international program this summer.

“We are very grateful to the New South Wales and Queensland Governments for their willingness to work with us to deliver the series as planned in a manner that places the safety and wellbeing of the players, officials, staff and the wider community as its top priority.”

Had the game been moved, it would have marked the first time since 1964-65 an Australian Test summer did not involve at least one of the matches at the SCG.

The coronavirus cluster on Sydney’s northern beaches stands at 129 cases, but there have been more venues of concern popping up in the city and in Wollongong.

Heavy restrictions are also in place around the city for New Year’s Eve, but tight lockdowns in the northern half of the northern beaches extend beyond the start of the Test.

The decision comes after the NSW Government came in at the last minute to allow India into the country and train while in quarantine in November, a point mentioned by Hockley on Tuesday night.

“It must not be forgotten that NSW Government and Sydney Cricket Ground provided exceptional support to bring India’s squad safely into the country,” Hockley said.

The decision could ultimately provide some advantage to Australia, given they have been beaten just once at the venue since 2003.

In contrast, India levelled the series at 1-1 at the MCG on Tuesday after defeating the hosts by eight wickets in the Boxing Day Test.

CA must now make calls on whether the Big Bash matches scheduled for next month will remain in Sydney or be played elsewhere due to the outbreak.

 – AAP

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