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England-India fifth Test Q&A: Did tourists pull out of Old Trafford showdown due to IPL concerns?

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England v India fifth Test Q&A: Did tourists pull out because of IPL concerns? Will fans receive ticket refunds? and have Virat Kohli’s side forfeited the Test?

  • The fifth and final Test between the sides has been cancelled at very short notice
  • The news comes just hours before the start of play at a sold-out Old Trafford 
  • Four members of India’s backroom team have tested positive for Covid this week
  • The tourists have dramatically refused to play after taking a 2-1 lead in the series
  • ECB announced that India had forfeited but then removed it from their statement


The crucial fifth and final Test match between England and India has been sensationally called off at the last minute after the visitors refused to play.

Hours before play was set to begin at a sold-out Old Trafford crowd of 21,000, the game’s cancellation was announced due to India’s fears about a potential Covid outbreak despite all the latest PCR tests returning negative results.

Four members of the touring team have tested positive this week, with physiotherapist Yogesh Parma testing positive on Wednesday night and joining boss Ravi Shastri and two other members of his staff in isolation.

The Indian players are desperate not to miss out on the lucrative Indian Premier League next week, with the fear of potentially testing positive and missing the tournament driving the side’s withdrawal. 

There is now widespread uncertainty and confusion from all sides, with questions regarding compensation, the result of the match, whether and when the match will be rescheduled, and the wider ramifications. 

So Sportsmail has provided some of the answers to the numerous questions thrown up by the news below.

The fifth and final Test match between England and India was sensationally called off on Friday

The fifth and final Test match between England and India was sensationally called off on Friday

India have pulled out due to fears about a potential outbreak of coronavirus in their camp

India have pulled out due to fears about a potential outbreak of coronavirus in their camp

It was called off just hours before the start of play at a sold-out Old Trafford crowd of 21,000

It was called off just hours before the start of play at a sold-out Old Trafford crowd of 21,000

Why have India refused to play if not a single player has tested positive? 

It appears it is because they are fearful of testing positive in subsequent Covid tests, which would then force individuals into isolation rather than allow them to fly to Dubai as scheduled next Wednesday. 

India’s players are desperate not to miss the resumption of the Indian Premier League in the UAE from September 19. 

It seems they took the precaution of cancelling their pre-match training session and isolating in their hotel rooms to this end.

The stands at Old Trafford will remain empty today despite all tickets being sold out

The news comes after India head coach Ravi Shastri tested positive for the virus on Sunday

The news comes after India head coach Ravi Shastri tested positive for the virus on Sunday

After a fourth member of India's staff tested positive, the players were confined to their hotel

After a fourth member of India’s staff tested positive, the players were confined to their hotel

England's players had been training without knowing whether play will go ahead this week

England’s players had been training without knowing whether play will go ahead this week 

At what point did BCCI tell the ECB the match was off?

Confirmation came shortly after 7.30am, although Sportsmail understands that correspondence from India’s senior players, in which they stated they did not want the game to go ahead, was received in the final minutes of Thursday.

Is the series now 2-1 or a forfeit? 

That was being debated this morning, with the BCCI offering to replay the Test at a later date – most likely next summer. 

India are here for two white-ball series in July 2022 and the proposal is to finish the series then. Whether the ICC will accept this remains to be seen.

Ex-India international Dinesh Karthik tweeted the news to his followers early on Friday

Ex-India international Dinesh Karthik tweeted the news to his followers early on Friday

England Cricket's Twitter then confirmed the shock news that the Test had been cancelled

England Cricket’s Twitter then confirmed the shock news that the Test had been cancelled

Stewards were the only people present at Old Trafford on Friday morning after the news broke

Stewards were the only people present at Old Trafford on Friday morning after the news broke

Who will pay the fans back? 

The ECB will refund all ticket holders as part of their ticketing policy. A forfeiture would arguably have led to India being asked for compensation. 

The ECB insurance for matches no longer covers Covid-related cancellations. Technically, India’s withdrawal was not due to a Covid issue but for fear of one developing.

Will the ECB have to refund Sky Sports and other rights holders? 

Yes. Although, not if the match is re-scheduled as per the BCCI’s proposal.

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