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Rain threat looms over India vs Australia ODI match at Eden Gardens

Australian cricket team will be playing the Indian cricket team for the first time at the Eden Gardens since 2003 but there are fears that the match in Kolkata might not happen due to persistent rain. Steve Smith’s side are trailing 0-1 in the five-match series after losing the first ODI in Chennai.

india vs australia 2017 Updated: Sep 20, 2017 20:05 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
India vs Australia,India national cricket team,Australia national cricket team
The second ODI between India vs Australia at the Eden Gardens on Friday is under threat due to rain. Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team are leading the five-match series 1-0.(REUTERS)

How do you prepare for a one-day international that could end up in a 20-over contest? Framed differently the question still sounded like ‘How do you solve a problem like Maria?’ Maybe the connection was made because the immortal lines from the Hollywood musical ‘The Sound of Music’ also mention ‘being unpredictable as weather.’

Australia skipper Steve Smith’s answer was straight-forward. “To begin with, we will turn up tomorrow and expect to be playing 50 overs. If things change from there, then we have got to adapt and do what needs to be done,” said Smith, a day before what should be his 100th ODI here on Thursday.

For the second straight day, the Eden lay under covers, several layers of them. A sliver of green was seen in the morning before the Australians arrived for optional training. The cover on the square was lifted for Smith and again in the afternoon when India coach Ravi Shastri, bowling coach Bharat Arun and captain Virat Kohli took a look at the wicket. It wasn’t till around 4pm when the sun peeped through that some of the protection was again peeled.

So going into the second of the five one-dayers, the ground was out of bounds for both teams. The Australians had worked out indoors on Tuesday too and some Indian players decided on a short game of football in front of the dressing rooms on Wednesday afternoon would be a better workout.

There are chances of Thursday being wet as well so this match is being played in the shadow of rain. Given that his team has all the catching up to do, surely Smith wouldn’t mind if Kolkata was in a rain shadow region.

No one in his team has played a 50-over international match here because the last time India and Australia played an ODI here, Sachin Tendulkar still had a decade to run in his international career. That match in 2003 went Australia’s way as did the only other one-dayer they have played at one of cricket’s most famous cathedral --- the final of the 1987 World Cup.

But it doesn’t really matter because the Indian Premier League (IPL) has changed more than economics of cricket in India; it has given international players familiarity with Indian grounds and conditions.

That’s may be why Smith said being unable to train outdoors wouldn’t really impact their chances of squaring the series. “The guys have worked hard since we have been in India and we had a game not that long ago so... It’s been about topping up as much as we can indoors and getting a few things right there. No excuses from us. We are ready to go tomorrow,” he said.

Given that the match comes in the middle of Kolkata’s preparations for the annual carnival that the Durga Puja is, it will have to be seen how many turn up even if the rain relents. Scalpers outside the Eden were offering tickets on its marked price on Wednesday morning and queues outside the box office small. But given how much an association earns for hosting an international and that with improved drainage facilities a truncated match can be held even if it rains on Thursday afternoon, the show certainly will go on.

First Published: Sep 20, 2017 18:56 IST