Rain has last laugh in Dharamsala
DHARAMSALA: The rain gods kept playing hide and seek and even with a state-of-the-art drainage system in place at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium, it ended up being a losing battle as the first T20I between India and South Africa on Sunday had to be abandoned without a ball bowled. The call was taken at 7:48 pm and as soon as the message was displayed on the scoreboard, a collective groan could be heard across the venue.
It had been raining here for the last three days but it was not expected to be a problem. Groundstaff had assured that the field of play could be ready in less than two hours if the rain stopped. Fans had started coming in from 4 pm and even though it was drizzling, there was an expectant buzz around the ground. After all, the last time the idyllic town had seen international cricket was in December, 2017.
The ground was 70 per cent covered and super-soppers had started work in order to get the surface match-fit. And at one point, it looked like the full 40 overs were possible even though it might have been a delayed start. But the way the heavens opened up post 6 in the evening, hopes were quickly extinguished.
The open sitting areas saw fans scurry back to the parking lot for cover, while a few used the advertisement boards to save themselves. The most excited the crowd got in between was when a fan ran into the ground amidst the downpour with an India flag and started doing a couple of knee-slides. He was cheered vociferously as the security personnel desperately tried to get him off the turf.
The hill station usually sees rain at this time of the year due to the retreating monsoon, so the scheduling by the BCCI could have been better. The only silver lining is since the toss was not held, supporters who had bought tickets will get a refund. The HPCA is also expected not to lose any money, since these matches are insured.
The action is set to shift to Mohali on Wednesday. It is expected to be dry, so fingers crossed that the fans can see some T20 action.