The inaugural World Test Championship final between the Blackcaps and India has been shifted to Southampton’s Ageas Bowl due to COVID-19 precautions, according to Indian cricket president Sourav Ganguly.
Initially scheduled to take place at Lord’s, the UK’s ongoing struggles in containing COVID-19 means that the final of the maiden edition of the tournament will instead move south to Hampshire.
Thanks to an on-site hotel facility, the Ageas Bowl will allow the two teams to operate in a biosecure bubble for the duration of the World Test Championship final, which is almost certain to be played behind closed doors.
Manchester’s Old Trafford was another potential venue, also containing onsite living facilities, however Southampton appears to be the frontrunner to play host.
Speaking to India Today, Ganguly made it clear that the Ageas Bowl is the ICC’s preferred venue, appearing to confirm recent speculation about the venue.
"It [the WTC final] is in Southampton," Ganguly said.
"It has been decided a long time ago. They have the hotel, which makes it easier for them to control (the bio-secure environment).
"That's why when England started cricket after Covid times, a lot of test matches were held in Southampton and Manchester because they have hotels alongside the ground."
The shift south to the Ageas Bowl could be a blessing in disguise for India, with the Hampshire wicket tending to favour spin bowling in the later stages of matches.
The Blackcaps and India will compete for the first World Test Championship crown, scheduled for June 18 to 22.