India-Sri Lanka T20 in Guwahati abandoned due to wet pitch

The much-anticipated series opener between India and Sri Lanka had a bizarre end as rain water passed through the covers on to the pitch.

India skipper Kohli points to the wet patch on the pitch after the covers had come off.   -  RITU RAJ KONWAR

The opening match of the India-Sri Lanka three-match T20 international series at the ACA Stadium, Barsapara, here was abandoned on Sunday without a ball being bowled due to wet patches on the pitch.

The much-anticipated series opener and the first match of the T20 World Cup year had a bizarre end as rain water passed through the covers on to the pitch.

The situation not only dampened the spirit of thousands of enthusiastic fans, who hoped to see an international match after more than a year, but also for the two teams who were planning to use this opportunity to do some experiments in the run-up to the big event in Australia in October.

It also delayed star Indian pacer Jasprit Bumrah’s comeback following an injury layoff.

The proceedings were smooth as India captain Virat Kohli, who left out Manish Pandey, Sanju Samson, Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravindra Jadeja from the playing XI, elected to field expecting heavy dew.

However, rain lashed the ground 15 minutes before the scheduled 7 p.m. start. The cricket-starved Guwahatians, who could not make it to the ground in time, thronged the venue even as it continued to pour for about an hour.

The spectators cheered in anticipation of the resumption of the match when the covers came off, but their wait became longer as the umpires – Anil Choudhary, Nitin Menon and Virender Sharma – spotted wet patches on the pitch, outside the crease, towards the Rolling Mill end.

Soon after Kohli had a look at the damp patches, seemingly due to some leakage, the inspection was pushed from 8:15 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The ground staff, who had worked hard to dry up the outfield using two super soppers, brought out a vaccum cleaner in the presence of Ashish Bhowmik, BCCI's head of curators, to blow hot air on to the wet areas and used a light roller on a piece of cloth spread over the track.

Kohli along with Rishabh Pant and Shikhar Dhawan made another visit to the middle when the umpires had a re-look at the pitch at 9 p.m.

The near-capacity crowd remained hopeful and danced to popular Bollywood numbers even as the anxious wait continued with umpires consulting match referee David Boon and scheduling a second inspection at 9.30 p.m.

Around five minutes after the scheduled cut off time of 9.46 p.m., the match was abandoned.

It was not the most professional way of hosting an international match, witnessed by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Jay Shah. The poor show may jeopardise Assam Cricket Association’s aspirations to host some home matches of Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League.

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