The stage is all set at the SMS Stadium here to host the first international cricket match to be held in India with no crowd restrictions in the Covid-19 era.

This match is none other than the opening T20 International to be played between India and New Zealand in Jaipur on November 17.

The Sawai Mansingh Stadium, which has a capacity of 25,000, is hosting an international game after eight years.

While the good news is that the match shall be played in front of a sizeable crowd with the host association refusing to put any restrictions on entry of spectators with even single shot of Covid-19 vaccine, the other side of the story is that the strict Covid protocols shall limit the smooth entry of audience in the stadium and it would not be a cakewalk for them to enter stadium like pre-Covid times.

However, being the first international match amid pandemic, it is redefining the 'New Normal' with a set of norms.

Unlike the pre-Covid era, the audience needs to be masked at the stadium. Those not vaccinated will have to carry a valid Covid negative test report which is not older than 48 hours from the start of the match.

Thermal screening will be in place and RT-PCR reports along with vaccination certificates shall be thoroughly checked.

"We have allowed gates to be opened five hours ahead of the match times to ensure there is no confusion and commotion at the point," said Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) media manager Vimal Sharma.

Meanwhile, RCA secretary Mahendra Sharma confirmed that as per the current state guidelines, the stadium can have a full crowd.

"You need to be vaccinated with one dose or you should carry a negative test report which will be checked at the entrance," he said adding, "entry without masks is restricted in the stadium".

The RT-PCR reports along with vaccination certificates will thoroughly be checked by the police officials who will be standing at the entry gates along with RCA officials, officials told IANS.

The tickets are selling like hot cakes online as cricket enthusiasts are eager to watch out their favourite stars playing right in front of them after eight years, said RCA officials.

The upcoming India vs New Zealand bilateral series will mark the beginning of Rohit Sharma's journey as Team India's full-time T20I skipper whereas former skipper Rahul Dravid will start his coaching stint with the senior team. KL Rahul has been appointed as Rohit Sharma's deputy for the three T20Is.

Earlier, crowds were allowed during India's home series against England but the number was capped at 50 per cent before a spike in cases during the white-ball leg which forced the organisers to stage the games without fans.

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