Wet outfield mars Chandigarh’s debut

The Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium couldn’t protect important portions of its ground from the overnight rain, and forced abandonment on a rain-free day.

The umpires, match referee and others congregate in the afternoon.   -  ABHISHEK MUKHERJEE

On a virtually rain-free day, the Vijay Hazare Trophy contest between Uttarakhand and Chandigarh was abandoned at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium here due to damp patches on the outfield, especially on the portions of the ground that made up the bowling run-up.

The ground looked adequately ready for a contest from the outside, but the slush in some portions was a considerable deterrent. These portions weren’t covered adequately from the overnight rain.

The players, officials and a handful of spectators present were made to wait interminably. What made the matter worse was that even a simple observation or explanation could not be provided by the match referee, who refused to speak to Sportstar. Players and support staff seemed to be barred from speaking, too; despite repeated attempts, the organisers – Cricket Association of Uttarakhand – refused to have them speak to the media.

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The Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium is a modern facility, with luxury gyms, spa, restaurant and corporate boxes. But it seems it has far from a state-of-the-art drainage system. Even the edges of the ground were considerably wet when this reporter took a walk near the boundary rope, after the verdict of abandonment had been passed.

The groundsmen were busy applying sand and trying to push it in with what appeared to be drain spades. But the slush could not be prevented from coming up on the surface. The umpires and the match referee made a number of inspections, and lingered on for considerable periods on the ground, talking to various stakeholders. Covers came on in the afternoon due to showers, but it lasted less than five minutes. Eventually, the match was called off at around 1.45 pm.

Two deliveries had been bowled — including a no-ball — when play began in the morning. But the slush was such that the players were forced to come off the ground, and wait.

It was supposed to be a big moment for Chandigarh; it was the team’s first match in a BCCI tournament. But it turned out to be a damp squib.