In the recent development, the third Test match between India and Australia has come under threat after a rise in COVID-19 cases near Sydney Cricket Ground. The match will be played on January 7 as the Test series is currently tied at 1-1 after first two contests. According to reports 10 COVID-19 cases were found positive on December 31 in Sydney’s vicinity, taking the toll to 170 over the last two weeks.

According to a report in Channel 9, there have been calls to play the red-ball contest without fans inside the stadium. Meanwhile, Cricket Australia has allowed 50 per cent of the stadium to get filled for the contest earlier.

“The Blue Mountain and Illawarra, a broad area is being affected by these outbreaks,” said a report on Nine News Sydney.

The areas of Berala and Smithfield, which are just 30-odd kilometres from the SCG have been put on alert.

“There have been calls to make [wearing] masks mandatory and, of course, not to have crowds which is due to kick off from seventh [of January]. Whether that happens, remains to be seen. We are expecting to hear from the New South Wales premier later in the day. But the numbers are really significant, we had 10 cases diagnosed for the last day of 2020,” the report added.

“Over the last two weeks, cases have risen from zero to 170 cases and that is significant. We are talking of a wide area, city blue mountain and Illawarra.”

Cricket Australia had this week confirmed that the third Test will go ahead in Sydney.

It is yet to clarify on the number of spectators to be allowed at the venue.

It also cut down on the travelling broadcasting staff, reducing it to as much as one-fourth for the last two Tests and ensuring that only players, support staff and match officials travel.

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian stated that her government had done all it could to ensure the preservation of the SCG Test.

“I’ve spoken to the chair of CA this morning I don’t want to take words out of their mouth, but they provided feedback to me to say that they’ve been very positive and optimistic about the way we’ve been dealing with it as the NSW Government,” she said. “They did say they were concerned about the Queensland government’s position and what that meant for their players once they finished the Test here and went to Queensland.”

Cricket Australia has planned tougher bio-security measures for the New Year’s 3rd Test between India and Australia following a fresh coronavirus outbreak in Sydney.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that he would have loved to be at the Sydney Test but for travel restrictions that won’t allow it to happen.

“If I was in Sydney, I would love to go there and sing the national anthem in its new form,” he was quoted as saying by AAP.

Morrison exchanged text messages with Australia skipper Tim Paine and coach Justin Langer on Friday, as the ongoing pandemic ensured there was no Kirribilli meet and greet with the Test squad. The Kirribilli meet is an annual affair with the two-Test teams visiting Kirribilli House, the official residence of the Australian Prime Minister in Sydney.

Although the current restrictions will allow fans at the SCG, the New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has said that the “pandemic is an evolving situation and every day things can change”.

(With IANS Inputs)