Cyclone Vardah unlikely to affect Chennai Test

Despite the havoc caused by cyclone Vardah, the fifth Test between India and England at Chepauk from December 16 appears to be on.

Chepauk stadium

Any damage to the surface or the stadium infrastructure, because of Cyclone Vardah, will only be known on Tuesday.   -  PTI

Despite the havoc caused by cyclone Vardah, the fifth Test between India and England at Chepauk from December 16 appears to be on.

Speaking to Sportstar on Monday, Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) secretary K.S. Viswanathan said: “There are still three full days to go for the Test. We expect the weather to settle by then. The pitch has been covered very well.”

Any damage to the surface, if the covers had been blown away by the sweeping winds, or the stadium infrastructure, will only be known on Tuesday when the TNCA reopens. As a precautionary measure, the TNCA closed its office on Monday.

Viswanathan noted, “In any case, it is too late to change the venue for the Test. The BCCI, which is monitoring the weather here, is hopeful too that the match won’t be affected.”

The two teams are scheduled to reach here on December 13 (Tuesday) but that could change if inclement weather continues. “We are in regular touch with the BCCI regarding the arrival of the teams,” said Viswanathan.

Meanwhile, much focus is on the pitch. Although covered, it might have taken a pounding. P.R. Viswanathan, the BCCI curator who is overseeing the preparation, said: “We have used strong ropes to lend extra support to the covers. We are confident the surface will be safe.”

If the sun does not come out, getting the pitch to dry up ahead of the Test could prove demanding. “In that case, we will use artificial means to dry the pitch. We have done this in the past,” he said.

However, the process of preparing the pitch is bound to get affected. The Indian team, in home conditions, would prefer a hard, dry track with bounce and turn, and that may not happen this time.

All the sweating under the covers and any seepage through the sheets may make the wicket sluggish and damp. The spinners might achieve only slow turn.

The surface, with moisture on it, could encourage the pacemen in the early stages even if all the grass is removed. Presently, the pitch – a mix of red soil and clay - has a two-millimetre grass layer on top.

Another matter of concern is that the practice pitches, which are not given as much protection as the surface for the Test, may be badly affected.

The TNCA sources, however, said the teams, which have already played four Tests in the series, should be able to take this in their stride. “By this stage in the series, both teams are not lacking in practice,” a source said.