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Covers will be put to test

india Updated: Feb 18, 2010 00:51 IST

Although the Met office has predicted a clear sky on Thursday, all eyes will be on how effective the pitch covers, Super Soppers and the underground drainage system at Eden Gardens are. That's because there were forecasts of overnight rain ahead of the final day of the India-South Africa Test match.

At night, four layers of cover protect the pitch, and two are put on the bowlers' run-up at either end. One plastic sheet on top also protects the adjoining areas of the pitch. During the day, in case of rain, plastic sheets are drawn out to protect these areas. The entire ground is never covered.

Eden Gardens has two Super Soppers, one bought last year and the other about seven years ago. The drainage system, however, hasn't been upgraded since being installed before the World Cup in 1996.

The covers didn't do a perfect job during Tuesday night's sharp showers as some areas were wet. There was no problem with the pitch but the bowlers' run up at the far end was a concern. And even though it did not rain in the morning and the Super Soppers were used, the start was delayed by over 90 minutes. Crucially, the drainage system at Eden, which failed spectacularly during the India-Sri Lanka ODI in 2007, remains under scrutiny.

That game was abandoned due to a wet outfield after a heavy downpour of about 20 minutes. To the surprise of those who then got a feel of the ground three hours later, there was water under the grass.

Jagmohan Dalmiya, who wasn't heading the Cricket Association of Bengal then but returned to power in 2008, said the problem during that match was caused by blockages in the drainage. They have subsequently been cleaned, he said.

"We will improve the system further before the World Cup, but what we have now is good enough," said Dalmiya.

The problem with Eden Gardens is that when it comes to dealing with situations like this, it hasn't undergone any major change since 1996. The new Super Sopper is the only sign of modern times but more probably needs to be done before the World Cup.