The game between India and Sri Lanka in Guwahati was abandoned due to wet patches on either side of the wicket. (Photo Credit: BCCI Twitter)
Heading into the Twenty20 International between India and Sri Lanka at the Barsapara stadium, there was a 74 percent chances of rain during the start of the match. Guwahati had received rain even during the afternoon but heading into the evening, things started brightening up. India won the toss and chose to bowl but from that point, the heavens opened up and rain lashed the stadium for close to an hour. What followed was a farce of epic proportions in trying to dry the damp spots in the pitch. After three hours of trying, all hopes of a game diminished and the first match for India in the new decade resulted in an abandonment.
The trouble started immediately after the toss was won by India. The players headed back to the dressing rooms and there was a heavy spell of rain and hail for close to 30 minutes. The pitch and the surrounding areas were covered up. After 45 minutes, the rain stopped and the super soppers made efforts to drain the outfield off the excess water. Having lost one and a half hours, overs were being cut. The rain relented and the groundstaff resumed their pursuit of clearing any water on the surface. Most of the covers came off.
However, there was a major problem near the pitch. Apparently, there were damp spots on both ends of the wicket. Virat Kohli, the Indian skipper, saw the patches and voiced his displeasure. Even the umpires had a check and they pushed the inspection to 9:00 PM IST. As things brightened up, there was another drizzle which forced the covers back on for 20 minutes. However, the inspection was not delayed. But the groundstaff had a problem. They wer employing a vacuum cleaner to dry the water off the top surface of the pitch. In addition to the vacuum cleaner, they employed a hair dryer and a steam iron to dry the pitch.
The groundstaff, though, were facing a race against time. The cut-off time for a five-over shoot-out was 21:46 hrs IST but the umpire scheduled an inspection at 21:30 hrs IST. That did not give much hope and there was still no official news after the 21:46 hrs IST cut-off time was passed. Initially, at 21:55 hrs IST, the game was declared abandoned. The nature of the abandonment will raise serious questions on the ability of Barsapara to host a match. The venue has not had many chances to host international games and this abandonment will not be a just result for the thousands of fans who stayed patiently throughout the time.