Rain intervenes, trophy shared

It rained half-an-hour before the summit clash on April 20, but it poured hard, leaving the outfield of the Bangabandhu Stadium soggy. The ground staff spared no effort, but then, this was a battle they could not win.

S. DINAKAR

PERHAPS, the biggest cheers over the two days were reserved for the chopper. After making an honest attempt to fulfil its mission, the helicopter took off. And up it went, into the sky.

It rained half-an-hour before the summit clash on April 20, but it poured hard, leaving the outfield of the Bangabandhu Stadium soggy. The ground staff spared no effort, but then, this was a battle they could not win.

Sadly, the finals of the tri-nation TVS Cup never took off. Rooted to the ground, consumed by the water.

It rained half-an-hour before the summit clash on April 20, but it poured hard, leaving the outfield of the Bangabandhu Stadium soggy. The ground staff spared no effort, but then, this was a battle they could not win.

Match Referee Clive Lloyd summed it up at 4.45 p.m. "We will have to come back again tomorrow."

Amid darkness all around there was a sliver of hope. Yes, there was a reserve day, and yes, all was not lost yet.

Indeed a miracle happened. The little ponds in the outfield disappeared, so was the wetness in the area around the square and the decisive clash actually began on time the next day.

Sourav Ganguly won the toss and his team was strengthened by the return of Yuvraj Singh and Zaheer Khan. Leggie Amit Mishra was back too, at the expense of off-spinner Sarandeep.

The South Africans had settled down well as a team as the tournament progressed and there were no changes in the XI.

Despite the presence of the clouds and the prospect of a downpour at some stage in the afternoon or the night, Ganguly preferred putting runs on the board.

Even as play commenced, it was clear that the Proteas were charged for the occasion. The South Africans had endured a turbulent phase in their cricket following the debacle in the World Cup. There were angry questions asked and the answers were not easy. Getting back on the winning track would take some doing after such a huge disappointment.

The South Africans had stumbled in the early phase of the competition in Dhaka, before adapting well to the sluggish pitch conditions and the hot weather. They were in no mood to allow the Indians to walk away with it.

It was clear that Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir — under pressure to retain his place and pipping Parthiv Patel for the opener's slot — had their tack cut out. It was an afternoon when both walked back disappointed, Sehwag done in by Shaun Pollock's change of pace, and Gambhir — the left-hander has a problem with his footwork — pouched in the cordon, driving away from his body.

When Mohammed Kaif top-edged a pull off an inspired Ntini, working up speed on a benign pitch, India was reduced to 41 for three. Ganguly and Yuvraj Singh had taken the total to 46 when a strong gust of wind, followed by a sharp spell of rain, sent the players scurrying back to the pavilion.

The ground staff were at work again. The sunshine came out for a brief while and there were prospects of a 25-over shootout. The sun had just gone down when the lights at the Bangabandhu Stadium went out.

And soon rain came back amid thunder and lightning. India and South Africa shared the trophy with unsung paceman Allan Dawson being adjudged the Player of the Tournament.

And the crowd returned dejected, taking cover from the stinging raindrops. Their most enduring memory from the two days might have been the chopper. Who can blame them?

The scores:

India: V. Sehwag c Dawson b Pollock 8; G. Gambhir c McKenzie b Ntini 11; S. Ganguly (not out) 11; M. Kaif c Rudolph b Ntini 5; Yuvraj Singh (not out) 2. Extras (lb-2, w-1, nb-6) 9. Total (for three wickets in 17.1 overs) 46.

Fall of wickets: 1-19, 2-35, 3-41.

South Africa bowling: Pollock 6-0-15-1, Ntini 8.1-2-26-2, Dawson 3-1-3-0.