Virat Kohli set to play 100th Test behind closed doors

Indian cricket board bars spectators for first Test against Sri Lanka in Mohali

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It will be a special occasion when star batsman Virat Kohli returns to the India team after taking a break during the Sri Lanka T20 series.

Kohli is set to play his 100th Test match when India take on Sri Lanka in the first of two Test matches in Mohali on Friday.

Kohli has not been in the best of form in recent seasons and lost the captaincy in all formats. He is now focusing on regaining his touch with the bat and also scoring that elusive 71st century. The 33-year-old last scored an international ton in November 2019.

His 100th Test will be played in front of empty stands after the BCCI announced that there will be no spectators at the venue due to rising coronavirus cases in Mohali.

"It is unfortunate that we can't have crowds in Kohli's 100th game due to Covid cases in the city," Punjab Cricket Association secretary Puneet Bali told AFP.

"But it is a historic occasion and we will felicitate the great batsman and also put billboards all across the city to celebrate the feat."

The decision, however, has not gone down well with some sections of Indian cricket. Former captain Sunil Gavaskar said it was disappointing that Kohli has been asked to play his milestone Test with no fans.

"Any game that you play, you want the crowd to be there. Any performer, be it an actor, be it a cricketer, wants to play in front of a crowd," Gavaskar told India Today.

"The 100th Test is very, very special. Disappointing that there is going to be no crowd, but I think the decision has been taken in the greater interest. The cases have increased in and around Mohali," he added.

Kohli has amassed 7,962 runs in 99 Tests since his debut in 2011 and will become the 12th Indian to appear in 100 or more red-ball matches. Batting great Sachin Tendulkar played a world record 200 Tests before retiring in 2013.

The second Test - which will be a day-night contest in Bengaluru - will have limited spectators.

Updated: March 01, 2022, 4:24 PM