The fifth and final Test between England and India, scheduled to commence at Old Trafford, Manchester, on Friday, is cancelled.
According to reports, India decided not to play the match after senior players were against taking the field following a fresh COVID-19 case in the contingent.
“Following ongoing conversations with the BCCI, the ECB can confirm that the fifth LV= Insurance Test between England and India Men due to start today at Emirates Old Trafford, will be cancelled,” read a statement from the England and Wales Cricket Board hours before the scheduled start.
"Due to fears of a further increase in the number of COVID cases inside the camp, India are regrettably unable to field a team.
“We send our sincere apologies to fans and partners for this news, which we know will cause immense disappointment and inconvenience to many,” the statement added.
A COVID-related quarantine would have meant missing out on IPL matches, starting September 19. The players are also awaiting reports of a fresh round of tests that have conducted.
As of now, India are 2-1 ahead and have not been officially declared winners of the series simply because there is a chance of the fifth Test being played during the window in July next year when the team visits for a six-match white-ball series.
It is learnt that, led by skipper Virat Kohli, who voiced his apprehension strongly, the players, late on Thursday, got into a huddle and couldn't be convinced by the BCCI brass to play the game.
Ever since the Indian players refused to play despite testing negative on Thursday, there have been continuous back-channel talks between the two boards.
Just hours before the start of the opening day’s play, former India wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik took to social media to inform play will not commence.
In a series of tweets, he also asked the "bigger question".
"Looks like there won't be any play today guys," he tweeted.
"The bigger question is, will the match happen at all ???? And what does the scoreline for the series look like if not," he added in another post, before signing of with "NO PLAY TODAY ok Tata bye bye."
Earlier, the cloud over the fate of the Test continued to hover, as it was decided not to start the match as scheduled.
This after the Board of Control for Cricket in India and England and Wales Cricket Board had long discussions on Thursday and Friday.
Sources in the know of developments confirmed the development and said more test results will be taken into consideration before taking a call.
"Yes, it is not starting today. More test results are awaited before a call is taken on starting on Saturday," the source added.
Ahead of the fifth Test, the Indian team's junior physio Yogesh Parmar tested positive for COVID-19 in Manchester. This led to Team India's training session for Thursday afternoon being cancelled.
However, there are no COVID-19 related worries in the England camp and Jos Buttler said everything is fine and the hosts are looking forward to the game.
"We don't know too much about it at the moment. It would be naive to speculate on what's going on. At the moment we're fully expecting the game to go ahead and we're preparing that way so fingers crossed the game will go ahead. Things are fine in our camp and we are looking forward to the game," said Buttler, during a virtual press conference.
This came after India head coach Ravi Shastri, bowling coach Bharat Arun and fielding coach R Sridhar returned positive results to their RT-PCR tests during the fourth Test.
They are currently undergoing isolation and can come out only after returning two negative results.
On Sunday, just half an hour before the start of play on Day 4 of the fourth Test, the BCCI said its medical team had isolated Shastri, Bharat Arun, Sridhar, and physio Nitin Patel as a precautionary measure after Shastri's lateral flow test returned positive on Saturday evening.
The remaining members of the Team India contingent had undergone two Lateral Flow Tests -- one on Saturday night and another on Sunday morning. The members upon returning negative COVID reports were allowed to proceed for Day 4 of the fourth Test at The Oval against England.