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South Africa vs India: Parched Cape Town raises reverse-swing fears for the hosts

South Africa are wary of the threat posed by the Indian bowlers as the continuing dry spell in Cape Town – venue for Wednesday’s third game – has left the ground mostly brown.

cricket Updated: Feb 06, 2018 13:15 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times, Cape Town
South Africa vs India,Cape Town,Newlands
India are leading 2-0 in the 5-match ODI series against South Africa. The third match will take place on Wednesday in Cape Town.(AFP)

Said to be the greenest outfield in South Africa, the Newlands ground looks yellowish from high up in the stands. With brown, grassless patches and a relatively thin grass cover overall, the impact of heat and water scarcity is evident.

The grass banks, where fans relax as they watching games, are totally bald.

Newlands curator Evan Flint said the water crisis has deepened since the first Test between India and South Africa from January 5-9.

Water consumption was limited to 87 litres per person per day then. It is down to 50 litres now as Western Province continues to reel under a severe drought.

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“At this time of the year, we would be watering it four or five times a week. Prior to the Test, we could water the outfield twice. But now we can water it only once. The pitch, however, has been watered as per the requirements,” says Flint.

“The outfield has been affected and there are patches. It is not looking good, it is rough, but what can you do?”

The groundsman, however, says since the outfield is barren, it’ll be fast. “It could also support some reverse swing, bringing Indian pacers into the fray.”

BAKED PITCH

Besides the water scarcity, rising temperature and the unrelenting sun have affected the pitch too. Though it rained during the Test, it has been completely dry heading into the third ODI. India lead the six-match series 2-0.

The curator, however, says since they’ve been able to water it, the surface shouldn’t break. That, of course, will be known only on match day.

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This week, the authorities stopped all school and club cricket, concentrating only on provincial and international matches. Students from Newlands Cricket High School roamed in the stadium. “We would practice for a couple of hours almost daily, but now we can’t. We are doing whatever we can on our own,” one of the students said.

Nabeal Dien, Chief Executive Officer of Western Province Cricket, says the focus is on the Test against Australia to be played here in late March.

“We are trying to stop the use of municipality water for all activities like showers, etc. We want to use borewell water so that the authorities give us concession to use more water on the field ahead of the Australia Test,” Dien said.

First Published: Feb 05, 2018 22:49 IST