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Rain plays spoilsport as India clean sweep the series

The first “official” confirmation that the Goa One-Day International against Australia had been called off came from the most unusual of sources. Anand Vasu reports.

cricket Updated: Oct 24, 2010 23:56 IST
Anand Vasu

The first “official” confirmation that the Goa One-Day International against Australia had been called off came from the most unusual of sources. Shortly before 1pm, on a day of multiple ground inspections by match officials and serious hard labour for curator Narayan Raju and his team, Rohit Sharma tweeted: “Match called off.”

Soon after the entire television commentary team of former cricketers trooped out of their position, some of them making changes to flight bookings to make an early return home.

By this time the restive crowd of nearly 30,000, the first of which had taken their seats at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium at 6.30am, got wind of what was happening and began to head for the exits even as the official announcement came.

Overnight rain had left several spots in the outfield damp, and though games have taken place in worse conditions, it was easy to understand why neither team wanted to take a chance with the packed season ahead. A twisted ankle in a relatively insignificant game could have dashed Michael Clarke's Ashes dreams, and Mahendra Singh Dhoni would have held his head in despair if one of his lieutenants turned a knee trying to stop a single in a truncated game.

In the end, though, there was disappointment all round, not merely for the people of Goa, who have seen just three international matches at home (including Sunday's non-starter) in the last 13 years, but for the players of both teams.

Some sheen was taken off India's clean sweep — the first Test at Mohali was won closely and two of the three ODIs were washed out — and Australia left Indian shores without the chance of picking up a consolation win.

For the fans who waited patiently, and in the most remarkably orderly manner, the high point of excitement came shortly after 11am when the sightscreen at the press-box end came crashing down.

The two minders seated at either end of the screen had a narrow escape, scuttling out of harm's way even as the screen keeled over and lay face down with a huge thud.

Typical of small venues like Goa, though, an innovative solution was at hand. Thick ropes tied onto the screen and thrown up into the galleries, while ground staff and volunteers got in position for an old-fashioned tug-of-war. To a rousing chorus of “Dum lagake! Aisa!” the felled screen was put back in its original place.

The honest efforts of enthusiastic locals might have won the battle with the sightscreen, but they were no match for the rain gods, who clearly had other plans for Super Sunday than cricket.