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Dew helped the Kiwis

The tournament has heated up and come alive with India and New Zealand on nine points each. Australia at 18 points have already qualified for the final. The first day-night match at Cuttack provided a good contest with the Kiwis achieving a hard fought win to stay alive in this series.

india Updated: Nov 08, 2003 01:08 IST
Arun Lal

The tournament has heated up and come alive with India and New Zealand on nine points each. Australia at 18 points have already qualified for the final. The first day-night match at Cuttack provided a good contest with the Kiwis achieving a hard fought win to stay alive in this series.

This is early season in the East where it rains a lot and this year it carried on till Nov 3, and therefore a slow and low wicket was only to be expected due to the water underneath. A day-night match, with the wicket expected to be slower as the match progressed, made for an important toss.

It is accepted thinking these days that chasing under lights is difficult. I have endeavoured to find out why but there is no particularly convincing reason, except that natural light is always better, the pressure of chasing and the fact that the wicket can't get better.

The match was a revelation of sorts and should serve as a lesson that it is also not the easiest thing to defend a target under lights.The most important thing is the dew factor. In the evening, the ball gets wet and creates enormous problems for the bowling side.

Firstly, the wet ball is difficult to grip and it even slips at the time of delivery, especially for the spinners. It therefore becomes difficult to impart the necessary revolutions on the ball to enable it to turn. Secondly, when it is wet it gets heavier. Any cricketer will tell you that the heavier the ball the more difficult it is to turn it.

Coupled with the fact that it is wet and slippery it becomes impossible to turn as it skids and keeps going straight through. The medium-pacers too become ineffective as the wet and heavy ball does not reverse swing. To reverse swing you need one side to be dry and scuffed up and the other side, either shiny or wet and heavy.

Finally the dew falling on the wicket is not enough to penetrate the hard rolled surface and so stays on top.

This makes the surface slippery and the ball skids even more. Consequently, it becomes easy to play shots as the ball does not turn, neither does it swing and comes on to the bat much faster -- reversing the expectation that the wicket will slow down as the match progresses. Infact it becomes much faster.

This is exactly what happened to India on Thursday. The total of 246 was good under the circumstances but the conditions changed so radically, that they lost easily.Their bowlers, especially the spinners, were totally nullified once the dew became heavy.

Moreover, it became difficult to field as the outfield was slippery and the ball was wet and slipping through the fingers. The ball too had lost its whiteness and was a strange brownish colour which was difficult to spot, traumatising the fielders.

The New Zealand batsmen too took their time to realise that it had become all too easy.They did not play shots for about ten overs after being 68 for four and still won quite easily. It was almost like playing on a cement wicket with a wet ball.

It is inexplicable that when conditions are loaded so heavily in favour of the side batting second why should you bat first. It is imperative that the teams practice under lights on the day before to check out the dew factor and to be able to make the right decision at the toss.

This is not an excuse for India's poor performance. You have to hand it to the Kiwis, they were the side under pressure, they were the ones who lost the toss and yet came up trumps.

First Published: Nov 08, 2003 00:48 IST