The fifth and final Test between India and England, scheduled to be played at the Old Trafford Stadium in Manchester from Friday to Tuesday, was cancelled over COVID-19 concerns in the visitors' camp. 

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said that India are unable to field a team over "fears of a further increase in the number of COVID cases" in their camp. 

"Following ongoing conversations with the BCCI, the ECB can confirm that the fifth Test between England and India Men due to start today at Emirates Old Trafford, will be cancelled," The ECB said in their statement.  

"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."

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In its initial statement, the ECB suggested that India had abandoned the match and the series will end at 2-2. However, it quickly changed that to say that India are unable to field a team. 

The final result of the five-match series, which India currently lead 2-1, is not yet confirmed. 

A series win for India will be a great boost, as they beat England at home and scripted a memorable win in Australia earlier this year. However, England still have a chance to make amends and rescue a draw in the series.

It was also reported that the match could be postponed by a day or two, but the imminent start of the Indian Premier League (IPL). 

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The development came after the visitors were dealt a setback following physio Yogesh Parmar's positive COVID-19 test that led to concerns that the infection could spread during the match, which was eventually cancelled a couple of hours before toss.

"In lieu of the strong relationship between BCCI and ECB, the BCCI has offered to ECB a rescheduling of the cancelled Test match. Both the Boards will work towards finding a window to reschedule this Test match," the BCCI said. 

What can happen now?

There are three ways the result of the series can be decided. Either ECB and BCCI come to an agreement and forfeit the series, giving India a 2-1 win, or the BCCI can leave drop the match giving England a 2-2 draw. The third option is to reschedule the match at a later time. 

However, given that the IPL is commencing from September 19, and the T20 World Cup will start two days after its conclusion, there is no way it can be done anytime soon. 

But India are due to tour England once again next year, when they will play both the limited-overs formats. They can keep this Test as a one-off, or play it at another time. 

Given that the next cycle of the World Test Championship has already started, neither teams will want to drop points at this early stage, making for an interesting setup for the conclusion of the series.