Ranji Trophy: Lack of covers forces abandonment in Dharamsala

The penultimate day’s play between Himachal Pradesh and Mumbai was abandoned, meaning the visiting side’s chances of forcing a result are over.

HPCA hopes to be equipped with a new set of covers before the next month’s ODI against South Africa.   -  AMOL KARHADKAR

For the second time in as many weeks, a whole day’s play was lost due to wet outfield at the HPCA Stadium despite snowy mountains overlooking the stadium basking in sunshine for virtually the whole day. The penultimate day’s play of Himachal Pradesh’s Ranji Trophy Group B clash versus Mumbai being abandoned meant the visiting side’s chance of forcing a result was over.

After the second day’s play was washed out due to rain, clear skies in the morning despite heavy downpour overnight raised hopes of resumption. Umpires S. Ravi and Vineet Kulkarni conducted four inspections along with match referee Gaurav Vashisht but such were the wet patches on either side square off the pitch that the officials were forced to call stumps at 2.40 p.m.

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Rain forcing abandonment is understandable but the BCCI and its affiliates’ apathy towards providing top-notch facilities to domestic teams came to the fore on Wednesday. Despite BCCI president Sourav Ganguly insisting on state associations possessing covers to protect the full ground, barely half of the HPCA Stadium was covered.

A similar incident had abandoned a full day’s play in HP’s tie versus Baroda last week. But it seems the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association - the home turf of BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal - didn’t learn a lesson, thus depriving both the teams of a valuable day’s action.

“Had the entire ground been under covers, the game would have been possible today. As long as it’s not raining, we could have played. The problem is the areas which are not covered,” said Aditya Tare, Mumbai captain. “There are venues in India where the entire ground gets covered. Not every ground has covers for the entire outfield but it’s unfortunate because there had been the prediction for rain.”

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While no HPCA official was available for comment, it is understood that the HPCA had to despatch half of its covers to Una, where the BCCI’s U-23 Women’s one-dayers are in progress. However, lack of proper covers - torn, according to a few women cricketers, has resulted in the women’s game being abandoned.

HPCA hopes to be equipped with a new set of covers before the next month’s ODI against South Africa. For now, domestic cricket continues to suffer and Mumbai and HP will keep their fingers crossed for clear skies and on-field action on the final day.

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