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Lights out at Green Park, Dhoni happy

cricket Updated: Nov 26, 2013 01:18 IST
Sai Mohan and Sharad Deep
Sai Mohan and Sharad Deep
Hindustan Times
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ODIs starting at 9am are rare affairs in India these days. The last day game was when Dharamsala made its international debut in January, hosting England. The Himachal venue opted against a floodlit game fearing dew in peak winter. The series-decider against West Indies on Wednesday is a day game and may not fetch the same TRPs a day/night game does. In fact, South Africa and England have given up staging floodlit games when India visit, taking into consideration the time difference and to ensure prime-time TV for Indian viewers.

But captain MS Dhoni is not complaining about a rare day game, especially after heavy dew ran away with virtual Man-of-the-Match honours in Visakhapatnam. Dhoni blamed dew for India’s three dropped catches too, emphasising on the overall impact floodlights have on the outcome of a game in India. Even in the Australia series, totals of 350 were mowed down with more than a few overs to spare.

Big Relief
“For me the biggest positive going into the next game is that there won’t be any dew around. It’ll be a pleasant change and will be nice to not worry about dew for once. The bowlers won’t have to worry about drying the ball after every delivery,” Dhoni said on Sunday.

What Dhoni may not be aware is that this game too would have been a day-night fixture if not for a mistake on the part of the Uttar Pradesh Sports Directorate. The newly-built director’s pavilion blocks light from one of the towers at the Green Park, casting a large shadow. The construction of the new pavilion cost `26.11cr. Remember, Green Park is owned by the state government, Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association maintains it and rents it out for matches. “Neither the local sports officials nor the construction agency cared about this. And now, we can’t stage a night game,” said a UPCA official.

Standing Idle
In 2002, Rs 5.52cr was spent on the installing the floodlights, but there have been no matches under them. The main reason is Kanpur’s proximity to the Ganga, which results in heavy dew in winter.

HT has learnt that both the regional sports office as well as the construction agency, Uttar Pradesh Awas Vikas, ignored the location of the floodlight tower and went on erecting the director’s pavilion. In 2012, when the roof of the director’s pavilion was being laid, the regional sports office did raise a concern about its height, but the construction agency instead blamed the tower’s location. “If this remains the situation, Green Park would never be able to host a day-night match. If this mistake had been rectified even before the construction of the director’s pavilion, today we would have been in a position to hold a day-night game here,” added another UPCA official.

Remedial Steps
However, deputy director (sports), Anil Kumar Banodha, said efforts would be made to resolve the problem. “It was an engineering fault and now we are looking for some alternative arrangements for this,” Banodha told HT. “The height of the floodlights would be increased to solve this problem. Let’s see how much time it takes for this process to take place.”

India have won 105 out of 192 day games at home. And their bowlers have conceded 4.99 runs per over and averaged 31.62 per wicket. But in day-night games, they have gone at 5.22 runs per over. On Wednesday, pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ravi Rampaul will enjoy hitting the seam without worrying about a wet ball, ditto the spinners, who would have been unable to grip the ball if the outfield was wet.