Rain plays spoilsport

As the misty Saturday morning began to clear, a hazy view of the spectacular mountain range of Shivalik Hills from the PCA stadium’s press box raised hopes of resumption of play.

The drizzle relented, the sun made intermittent appearances and Punjab skipper Harbhajan Singh declared ‘game to hoga abhi’ (game will resume now)! Less than two hours later, however, the match officials decided to call off the opening day’s play of the Ranji Trophy semifinal between Karnataka and Punjab. The final call to this effect was taken at 1.35 pm, a good 25 minutes before their second scheduled inspection as the clouds opened up once again undoing all the hard work the ground staff had put in to get the ground in shape.

Given the heavy winter fog in this part of the world, the delayed start was very much on the cards. But a combination of heavy showers and light drizzle, though not completely unexpected, ensured that no play was possible. There was a forecast for rains on Saturday morning but it began pouring on late Friday night itself and extended to the next day as well though with less intensity. By that time, it had left a few wet patches on either side of the wicket. The area along the boundary wall was slushy but it was the beyond the rope.  

“It had rained almost whole night and drizzled in the morning as well,” said on-field umpire Sudhir Asnani. “When it stopped drizzling this morning, the ground staff said they would require about two hours’ time to get the ground ready for play. We had an inspection at 1.00 pm and found there were a few wet patches on either side of the wicket and we asked them to cover them adequately. We had scheduled our second inspection at 2.00 pm but before that it began raining. The patches would have only got worsened and would have been dangerous for the players. So we decided to call off the play,” he explained.  
Draped heavily in warm clothes, Punjab players sipped pots of tea to beat the cold and the boredom while Karnataka players arrived at the ground only when they learnt of the possibility of some play. Much to their disappointment, though, they didn’t even have to take out their flannels and their activity was restricted to their own version of sepaktakraw. The forecast for Sunday is slightly encouraging with chances of shower in the morning but a sunny afternoon.

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