India vs South Africa women games to have spectators at 10% capacity in Lucknow

Radha Yadav returned career-best figures of 4 for 23 Getty Images

Spectators up to 10% of the stadium capacity will be allowed entry at the Ekana International Stadium in Lucknow for India Women's upcoming series of eight matches - five ODIs and three T20Is - against South Africa Women starting March 7, the Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association (UPCA) has confirmed to ESPNcricinfo.

The decision was taken on Thursday evening following a meeting between the UPCA and the local health authorities. Tickets for all the matches are going to be put up for sale online at INR 200 and INR 400 (US$ 2.7 and 5.5). No in-person collection of tickets would be permitted.

As reported by ESPNcricinfo last week, the UPCA had been in talks with the BCCI and local health authorities to explore the possibility of filling up half the seats at the 50,000-capacity stadium for the best part of India's eight-match assignment. However, a recent spike in Covid-19 cases across several parts of the country prompted the UPCA to cap the limit at 10%.

BCCI vice-president Rajeev Shukla, who is also part of the UPCA board of directors, said that aside from spectators, media personnel, too, will be allowed for all the games, with a viewing to promoting women's cricket.

"Women's cricket is very important for us. That's why we brought the matches to UP and Lucknow," Shukla told ESPNcricinfo. "We want more and more people to come watch the series but the problem is you have to follow whatever the state administration allows given the [Covid-19] situation.

"Only a limited number of tournaments are being held right now due to the pandemic. We are organising a women's [international] series now and the domestic season is about to begin. So, we want to promote women's cricket; the BCCI also wants to promote women's cricket."

In the ongoing Test series against England, though, no spectators were allowed for the first Test in Chennai, and crowds up to 50% of the stadium capacity were allowed for the second Test, also in Chennai, as well as the third and fourth Tests, both in Ahmedabad, following a government directive.

This will be the first taste of international cricket for the India Women side since their loss to Australia in the final of the 2020 T20 World Cup final on March 8. The only bit of cricket the prominent - and some fringe - Indian women players have played since then was at the four-match Women's T20 Challenge in Sharjah on the sidelines of the IPL 2020 playoffs in early November. The 2020-21 women's domestic season, too, has seen no cricket yet, though the 50-over competition is scheduled to start on March 11.

This is the first time women's international cricket would be played at the new venue in Lucknow, which hosted its first international match in 2018, an India vs West Indies T20I encounter. That match aside, the facility has been used primarily by the Afghanistan team as one of their home venues - they have played one Test, three ODIs and four T20Is there. The Indian men's team were scheduled to take on South Africa there last March, but that match was cancelled following the Covid-19 outbreak.