It was a day of shame for cricket in India.
The game and its followers were let down by the administrators who milk it for all it’s worth. The poor quality of the pitch prepared by the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) at the Ferozeshah Kotla stadium forced India and Sri Lanka to abandon their fifth one-day international (ODI) a little over two hours after it began on Sunday morning.
Sri Lanka’s batsmen complained the pitch was too dangerous to bat on, and the umpires agreed with them.
Angry spectators, who had filled the 45,000-seater stadium to near capacity, hurled water bottles and chair covers from the stands in protest as the match was stopped and players went off the field.
The fiasco has endangered Delhi’s chances of hosting any of the matches in the 2011 World Cup. Under International Cricket Council regulations, the ground now attracts a ban of between 12 and 24 months.
After India won the toss and put Lanka in to bat, a number of batsmen were hit on the body by deliveries from fast bowlers that leapt up alarmingly from a good length.
Not surprisingly, wickets fell in quick succession, and by the 24th over, when the match was abandoned, Sri Lanka were 83 for five wickets. When a ball from Sudip Tyagi, sent down at a little over 135 km per hour, climbed so steeply that it sailed over the batsman and the wicket keeper, Sri Lanka decided they'd had enough. Kumar Sangakkara, the captain, who was off the field, gestured animatedly to the batsmen in the middle, Thilina Kandamby and Muthumudalige Pushpakumara. The batsmen complained to the umpires. Umpires Shavir Tarapore and Marais Erasmus conferred with match referee Alan Hurst, and play was suspended.
Initially, senior DDCA and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) officials considered restarting the match on an adjacent pitch. But the idea was given up when that pitch too was found to be inadequately prepared.
It is the host association, in this case, the DDCA, which is responsible for the pitch's preparation. The BCCI's Grounds and Pitches Committee, however, oversees the task. The BCCI acted swiftly, disbanding its Grounds and Pitches committee, headed by Daljit Singh.
The DDCA refused to comment on the possibility of losing World Cup matches. “I don't want to comment on something which is in the realm of speculation,” said DDCA president Arun Jaitley.
“Our priority right now is to assess why it all happened and take remedial steps.”
Some DDCA officials directly associated with the pitch's preparation, have, however, resigned.
This was only the second time in Indian cricket history that a match was abandoned because of a dangerous pitch, the first being on December 25, 1997, in Indore, also against Sri Lanka. The Nehru Stadium in Indore was then blacklisted as a venue for two years.