The JSCA stadium in Ranchi has hosted only one Test and that was against Australia in the 2017 summer. (Photo Credit: Twitter)
Virat Kohli's Indian cricket team arrive at the JSCA stadium for the third and final Test in Ranchi against South Africa with plenty at stake. Kohli will be gunning for a 3-0 whitewash and they will be aiming for maximum points in the ongoing ICC World Test Championships. While Kohli and the Indian cricket team are breaking records consistently, there is a major issue that is plaguing not just world cricket but Indian cricket as well. This is an issue of low crowds for Test matches that have plagued the current series.
Apart from the game in Vizag that saw good attendances on all the days, the Test in Pune was a bitter disappointment with lots of empty stands. After Pune, it is the turn of Ranchi to face the heat as the Test stares at low numbers. According to an Indian Express report, only 1500 tickets have been sold for the game. The capacity of the stadium is 39000. The cricket association has said it has distributed 5,000 complimentary tickets to security personnel and another 10,000 tickets to schools, clubs and academies.
The low numbers has forced the JSCA president, Nafis Khan to paint a bleak picture. Speaking to the Indian Express, he said, "Next time, maybe we have to think twice before hosting a Test match. At the same time, we can’t say no also. If the state associations start rejecting Test cricket, the purest form of the game would die. It’s very sad to see empty stands. We have to make certain changes to the Test format."
The situation regarding Test cricket in the smaller towns and in some cases large towns has been bleak in India for some time. Kolkata's Eden Gardens has seen poor crowd numbers for Tests in the last couple of years while Rajkot and Mohali have also struggled. Chennai and Bangalore have seen decent attendances but in the case of Chepauk, they have not hosted a Test for a long time.
All eyes will be on the BCCI Annual General Meeting (AGM) as to how the BCCI proposes a roadmap to revive Tests and improve crowd attendances in India. Sourav Ganguly, who will be appointed as the president of the BCCI, could propose Day Night Tests to be played in the country. India and Bangladesh are the only teams to have not played a Pink Ball Test, with the first match taking place in 2015 between Australia and New Zealand in Adelaide.