Capital embarrassment

Capital embarrassment

India's Virender Sehwag, left, congratulates Harbhajan Singh, third left, on taking the wicket of Sri Lanka's Sanath Jayasuriya, unseen, as other teammates look on during their fifth and final one-day international cricket match in New Delhi. PTI

The pitch at the Ferozeshah Kotla has been in the news for quite some time now for all the wrong reasons, but on Sunday it joined the hall of shame when the fifth and final match between India and Sri Lanka was abandoned just after 23.3 overs due to the ‘dangerous’ nature of the much re-laid square.

Sri Lanka were struggling at 83 for five at that time after Indian skipper MS Dhoni inserted the visitors. India may have won the series 3-1 but it wasn’t certainly the way they woud have wanted to end it.

The immediate impact of this incident on the Delhi and District Cricket Association, the hosts of the ill-fated match, will be known during the due course of time, but the Board of Control for Cricket in India swung into immediate action disbanding its Grounds and Pitches Committee, headed by Daljit Singh, with immediate effect.

Ferozeshah Kotla’s prospects of hosting the World Cup matches in 2011 now are in jeopardy as the ICC’s code of conduct regarding poor pitches states that a first such breach will invite a suspension of the venue’s international status for a period between 12 to 24 months together with a directive for appropriate remedial action and the need for prior ICC re-accreditation as an international venue.

A clearly embarrassed DDCA ducked most of the questions directed at Delhi’s future as an international venue, but in a bid to minimise the damage they announced the refunding of the ticket money as soon as possible.

Very early in the innings it was clear that the pitch had more than its share of ‘help’ for the bowlers and it really didn’t make any sense to drag the match so long.

The ball would remain low after pitching on the bald area and the next one would kick up after landing on the grassy patches. One such delivery in the 10th over from Ashish Nehra cracked into Tillakaratne Dilshan’s left arm and the batsman, despite wearing the arm guard, collapsed on the ground writhing in pain.

Replacing Nehra from the far end, debutant Sudep Tyagi got one to rear up from a good length and the ball almost cleared Dhoni behind the stumps. Kumar Sangakkara, back in the hut already, and Mahela Jayawardene, out due to a groin injury, flailed their arms in sheer frustration even as the Lankan skipper asked his men in the line of fire – Thilina Kandamby and M Pushpakumara – to come out. A lengthy discussion followed between the two captains, match referee Alan Hurst, umpires Shavir Tarapore and Marius Erasmus first on the field and then inside before the match was called off at 12.30 p.m.

Between stoppage and the eventual call-off that lasted for about one hour and 10 minutes, the authorities tried to explore the possibility replaying the match on the adjacent strip, but deemed it unfit too.

“Before abandoning the match, consideration was given to shifting the match to a secondary pitch. However, it was deemed impractical as the secondary pitch was not adequately prepared,” said Hurst.

But the spectators’ patience was wearing thin. With no immediate announcement coming from the authorities regarding the status of the match, they resorted to sloganeering, brought down hoardings, threw all kinds of objects into the ground and eventually left several chairs broken. Fortunately there wasn’t any serious trouble as the police swung immediately into action and kept the damage in check.      

Score Board

SRI LANKA

Thranga b Zaheer    0
(1b)
Dilshan c Dhoni b Zaheer    20
(39b, 2x4)
Jayasuriya c Raina b Tyagi    31
(51b, 5x4)
Sangakkara c Raina b Tyagi    1
(9b)
Samaraweera (run out)    2
(2b)
Kndamby (not out)    12
(21b, 1x4)
Pushpakumara (not out)    7
(19b)
Extras (LB-1, NB-1, W-8)     10
Total (For 5 wkts, 23.3 overs)    83
Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Tharanga), 2-39 (Dilshan), 3-58 (Sangakkara), 4-60 (Jayasuriya), 5-63 (Thilan Samaraweera).
Bowling: Zaheer Khan 8-1-31-2 (w-3, nb-1), Ashish Nehra 5-0-24-0 (w-2), Sudeep Tyagi 6.3-1-15-1 (w-3), Harbhajan Singh 4-0-12-1.
Runs during: Power Play 1: 1-10 overs: 39/1; Power Play 2: 11-15 overs: 19/1; Power Play 3 (batting): Not taken.

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