Australia to allow 30,000 fans per day during Melbourne Test against India

More spectators permitted at Boxing Day match after health situation improves in Victoria

The Melbourne Cricket Ground will permit 30,000 fans per day during the Boxing Day Test between Australia and India after authorities eased crowd restrictions on Thursday.

The match was to be capped at 25,000 fans per day but Victoria sports minister Martin Pakula confirmed the increase on social media after the southern state confirmed it had notched its 41st consecutive day without a new case of Covid-19.

The second Test of the four-match series will be the first time fans have been allowed to attend the iconic stadium since 86,000 watched Australia win the Women's T20 World Cup final against India in March.

Meanwhile, Steve Smith admitted he was pumped to play his first Test in almost a year, revealing how hard it was to miss India's last series in Australia when he was banned for ball-tampering.

The two sides meet in a day-night Test in Adelaide from December 17, the first of four clashes over a blockbuster summer.

It will be Smith's first red-ball international since the final Test against New Zealand at the Sydney Cricket Ground in January before coronavirus caused havoc.

"Very excited, I love Test cricket, it's my favourite form of the game no doubt. It challenges you in so many different ways," Smith said.

"So excited to get back out and play some long-form cricket. It's been close to a year since our last game. Can't wait – all the boys are really keen to get out there and play as well."

Making it extra special for Smith is that he missed India's historic first Test series win in Australia in 2018-19 when he was serving his 12-month suspension.

"I watched bits and pieces," he said of the tour. "It was difficult sitting on the sidelines and not being able to go out there and make a difference.

"That was the toughest thing for me, knowing that I probably could make a difference if I was out there. So that was hard. But it's an exciting series coming up."

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