Rain halts India's march

Rain halts India's march

A buoyant India's march to achieve their best-ever result in a Test series against Australia was halted, as the start of the third and penultimate match of the ongoing rubber got delayed due to heavy downpour here today.

Not a single ball could be bowled till lunch after the toss was delayed due to inclement weather.

India, who have never won more than two Tests in a single series against the team from Down Under, are leading the four-match series 2-0 after convincing victories in the last two outings in Chennai and Hyderabad.

And given Australia's meek surrenders in both Chennai and Hyderabad, there is a high possibility of the visitors being whitewashed by the hosts, who have so far been confidence personified under the leadership of Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

The weather Gods, however, could come in the way of what Dhoni and his men would love to achieve, especially against an opponent who had thrashed them the last time they crossed swords, albeit in Australia.

The Indian team was learnt to have returned to the hotel even as the Australians enjoyed a morning cup of tea, after the outfield was rendered wet due to incessant rain, barely hours before the start of the match at the Punjab Cricket Association

A few from the Australian camp, including coach Mickey Arthur, were however seen having a jovial chat on the ground.

The super soakers were out in the field as the groundsmen got down to get the surface back in shape for the match. The few heads totting the stands at the PCA stadium, watched in helplessness, as the grounds men carried on what seemed like a futile mopping-up operation.

The rain seems to have subsided for the time being, but the thick cloud cover is showing no signs of abating. True, the sun peeped out, but disappeared before one could blink.

The pitch and the square were covered.

"Overnight rain started at 3 am and it will take at least two hours for the groundstaff to dry the playing areas. However, bad news is that rain has been forecast for the afternoon as well," ICC umpire Richard Kettleborough said ahead of the first pitch inspection.

Another inspection is slated post noon.

Kettleborough was right as the met department had yesterday forecast possibility of rain with cloudy skies in the city.

Delhi left-hander Shikhar Dhawan is making his Test debut in this match. Apart from Dhawan, who is filling in for the dropped Virender Sehwag, Indians are likely to field the same team that played in the last match.

Australia's squad trimmed to 13 after the expulsion of four players, they will be playing experienced wicketkeeper-batsman Brad Haddin in place of the injured Matthew Wade.

With James Pattinson being one of the four axed players, Mitchell Strac automatically makes a return to the playing XI with Peter Siddle being the second pacer.
Leg-spinning all-rounder Steven Smith, too, will be batting up in the order.