New Zealand vs Australia: Fourth T20I shifted from Auckland to Wellington after new COVID-19 cases

New Zealand vs Australia: Fourth T20I shifted from Auckland to Wellington after new COVID-19 cases

Auckland has gone into Alert Level 3 restrictions amid a week-long lockdown.

New Zealand v Australia
New Zealand v Australia. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

The upcoming fourth T20I between New Zealand and Australia has been relocated from Auckland to Wellington. The decision to shift the venue was taken due to new lockdown restrictions imposed by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Saturday (February 27) evening. There has been a COVID-19 outbreak in Auckland and as a result, the city has gone into Alert Level 3 restrictions amid a week-long lockdown.

The rest of the country, on the other hand, is, on Level 2. Wellington Regional Stadium, which was already scheduled to host the third T20I on Wednesday, will now host the fourth game as well. The fifth and final game of the series is scheduled to take place at Tauranga’s Mt Maunganui. The three remaining matches will be played as T20I double-headers alongside the women’s series involving New Zealand and England.

According to Cricket.com.au, the remainder of the series is likely to be played behind closed doors despite neither Wellington nor Tauranga reporting cases in recent months. New Zealand Cricket will take a final decision on the crowd in the coming days only after consulting the government.

“NZC has confidence in, and continues to operate within the New Zealand government’s alert level protocols. This means at level one it’s pretty much business as usual; at level two games are played behind closed doors, and at level three, games are abandoned,” a New Zealand Cricket spokesperson said on Saturday night.

Blow for New Zealand Cricket

The latest turn of events is a huge financial blow for New Zealand Cricket (NZC). The cricket body has already sold the majority of the tickets for the games and matches involving Australia at Auckland’s Eden Park have traditionally attracted huge crowds. Talking about the series, New Zealand will have a chance to wrap it up in the third game.

The Black Caps are leading the five-match series after winning the first two T20Is. The hosts won the first game by 53 runs while defending 184. In the second game, they beat the Aaron Finch-led side by four runs while defending 219. The third game is scheduled to take place on March 3.