India vs South Africa: Rain washes out first ODI in Dharamsala
Timing will be of essence when Dharamsala gets to host their next international match, the venue suffering its second successive washout on Thursday when the first ODI between India and South Africa was abandoned due to rains without even the toss taking place. The previous game abandoned was also an India-South Africa game, a T20 International in September last year.
The fans who had made a long queue outside the main gate sought shelter outside the ground once it started pouring just before the start of the game. Those that came inside continued to stay put till the official announcement was made close to 6 pm. The fans will be refunded in full. About 16,000 tickets were sold for the match. The venue has a capacity of 22,000.
Local officials on the ground say they are upset because the venue runs the risk of losing credibility because of these washouts. The HPCA may be forced to rethink scheduling as the broadcasters may not want another damp squib.
“Dharamsala will have to avoid the four winter months—December to March—and also the rainy season—from June 15 to September 15,” said an official.
Coronavirus? What’s that?
The threat of the coronavirus outbreak didn’t seem to affect fans and people on the ground here. The Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) had put up advisories in the lead-up to the match, asking people to take precautions, including wearing masks and to keep washing hands. However, only a handful of fans came wearing masks. Most fans didn’t hesitate in shaking hands and gathering together in close groups.
The HPCA had arranged for an increased number of doctors, from four to 10, and a few instant thermometer guns, though they were available only in a designated area and not at the regular first-aid centre. No hand sanitizers were available at the venue, and no mass screening measures were in place.
“We have taken out advisories and asked people to take precautions but the reason we aren’t that worried is because there has been no case detected in the entire Himachal Pradesh. Yes, if someone complains of fever, we have doctors, thermometres and first-aid available,” said an official.
It helped that it rained consistently throughout the afternoon and the evening and the crowd kept getting thinner and thinner.