INDW vs SAW: Weather holds key for fourth T20I

The forecast for Tuesday isn’t particularly encouraging; a prolonged spell of sunshine could brighten up the chances of play. Two out of five matches have already been washed out.

Veda Krishnamurthy (right), Mansi Joshi (centre) and a team member play football at the Lalbhai Contractor Stadium.   -  Vijay Soneji

Gujarat’s biggest festival, Navaratri, is here. It celebrates Goddess Durga on nine successive nights in the most colourful of styles, with some spectacular dances.

There hasn’t been much to celebrate about on the cricketing front, however, due to rain. Two matches in a series of five have already been washed out. The third one should have been played on Sunday, the first night of the Navaratri.

It wasn’t just the traditionally decked up Gujarati women, all ready for their Garba dances, who were disappointed. There were also the likes of Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet Kaur and Jemimah Rodrigues who must have been hoping to make South African bowlers dance to their tune in front of another huge crowd at the Lalbhai Contractor Stadium.

Discouraging forecast

They would be desperate for the sun to come out and dry up the wet outfield in time of the fourth match on Tuesday night. Things, however, didn’t look particularly promising on Monday, when both the sides were forced to cancel their training sessions because of the wet outfield. A prolonged spell of sunshine could brighten up the chances of play, though the forecast isn’t overly encouraging, with the depression expected to move this direction from Surendranagar.

If the weather doesn’t turn out to be as depressing as feared, one could expect some sparkling cricket from these two groups of spirited ladies. The teams are in desperate need of a few competitive matches with the T20 World Cup in Australia just five months away.

The series had been set up rather nicely, too, with a keenly-contested opening match. Before India romped home by 11 runs in a low-scoring encounter, Mignon du Preez had played a magnificently fighting knock to raise hopes of an unlikely victory for South Africa.

‘Very disappointing’

It was the Indian spinners, spearheaded by off-spinner Deepti Sharma, who turned things around for the women in blue after what had seemed an inadequate display with the bat. The crowd was also entertained by some dazzling strokes from Harmanpreet, Smriti and Jemimah. The city’s international debut was splendid. Little could it have imagined it would have to wait quite a while for a second game.

“It is very disappointing for the people of Surat,” said Deepak Vashi, who manages the media on behalf of the Surat District Cricket Association. “More than 10,000 people had turned up for the second match, too. These have easily been the biggest crowds ever at the stadium.”