New Delhi, May 22: India's World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand in Southampton will be their first Test at a neutral venue in their 89-year history of Test cricket.
Among nations with Test status, India and Bangladesh are the only sides who haven't played Test cricket at a neutral venue. Over the last decade, most international cricket teams have played series against Pakistan at a neutral venue since there was no cricket in Pakistan. The series were mostly in the United Arab Emirates, with almost no crowd for either side as Test matches found few takers in the Emirates.
No country has visited Pakistan for 10 years since early 2009 when the Sri Lankan cricket team was attacked by gunmen. Since India have not played a Test match against Pakistan after the 2007-08 home series, they have not got to play any match at a neutral venue. India had an opportunity to play at a neutral venue, back in 1999-00 during the Asian Test Championships. The final was played in Dhaka but India failed to reach it and Pakistan and Sri Lanka were involved in a title clash in Dhaka.
The WTC final at Southampton though will most likely be played in front of a crowd of 4,000 and there could be plenty of Indian fans though not as many as India are used to at home or even overseas nowadays. Rod Bransgrove, the chairman of the Hampshire County Cricket Club has been quoted as saying by a section of the media that out of the 4,000 tickets, 50% will go to ICC for its sponsors and stakeholders while they will be selling the remaining 2,000 tickets.
"We have already received more than double applications from the fans. It is a high interest game and there is a good demand for it," he had told Cricbuzz.