India captain Virat Kohli celebrates
India captain Virat Kohli celebrates with teammates after winning fourth Test match against England at The Oval. Image Credit: ANI

Kolkata: The fifth and final Test between England and India, scheduled to begin at the Old Trafford in Manchester on Friday, has been cancelled after due to Covid-19 fears.

''The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) along with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have jointly decided to call off the fifth Test match scheduled at Manchester in ongoing India’s tour of England 2021,'' the BCCI clarified in a statement.

''The BCCI and ECB held several rounds of discussion to find a way to play the Test Match, however, the outbreak of Covid-19 in the Indian team contingent forced the decision of calling off the Old Trafford Test match. In lieu of the strong relationship between BCCI and ECB, the BCCI has offered to ECB a rescheduling of the cancelled Test match. Both the boards will work towards finding a window to reschedule this Test match,'' the Indian board, putting into rest the earlier talk that they have 'foreited' the match.

In lieu of the strong relationship between BCCI and ECB, the BCCI has offered to ECB a rescheduling of the cancelled Test match. Both the Boards will work towards finding a window to reschedule this Test match.

''The BCCI would like to thank the ECB for their cooperation and understanding in these trying times. We would like to apologise to the fans for not being able to complete an enthralling series,'' Jay Shah, the BCCI secretary concluded in the statement.

"Due to fears of a further increase in the number of COVID cases inside the camp, India are regrettably unable to field a team,'' ECB said earlier.

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The scoreline of the series now rests 2-1 in favour of England after four Tests, with the possibility of the deciding Test being played later.  Meanwhile, ICC sources told Gulf News earlier: ''The Test has been called off mutually as per information coming in.''

The development comes after another round of intense discussions between the BCCI and the ECB after India's assistant physiotherapist Yogesh Parmar returned a positive Covid-19 test on Thursday. A number of Indian players are known to be close to Parmar and late on Thursday night, the go-ahead was initially given after all of them tested negative.

A media report earlier said that more than one India player had expressed concerns about taking the field about Parmar's positive result and discussions were on if the start of the Test could be deferred.

However, with both Indian and England members supposed to fly to the UAE in a bubble-to-bubble transfer straight after the match for the remaining part of IPL 2021, there was no leeway to reschedule the Test. The IPL gets under way in the UAE on September 19.