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Rain Gods know Chepauk too well

The retreating monsoon started letting its presence felt hours before the third India-South Africa ODI scheduled for Tuesday.

india Updated: Nov 22, 2005 03:52 IST

South Africa's discovery of India has hit a wet patch. On their whistle-stop journey through the southern part of the country after which they will get a taste of the east and west, the visitors are witnessing rain, much to the dismay of the locals, who are dreading the prospect of a third successive washout in as many years. The retreating monsoon started letting its presence felt from the wee hours of Monday, hours before the third India-South Africa ODI scheduled for Tuesday, and possibilities of an 100-over affair also seemed to be retreating when a spell of blinding rain hit the city shortly after 1 pm.

The groundsmen were working overtime, removing buckets of water from the covers laid over the greens and the bald patch at the MA Chidambaram Stadium and it was a massive task. Fingers, still, were very much crossed and cricket fanatics here were praying for a break from the curse of the rain god which robbed them of an exciting final day's action in the India-Australia Test last year, after the washout in the India-New Zealand ODI in October 2003.

So much for those who pay to watch cricket. Those who are paid to play were trying to take it in stride. "We can't control or worry about it (the weather). We have to be ready for whatever comes our way," said Rahul Dravid before heading to the stadium gym instead of having nets, as had been scheduled after a day's break. The skipper said it wouldn't be too difficult to alter plans in case of a truncated match, possibilities of which couldn't be ruled out less than 24 hours before the scheduled start. "We will have an eye on that, but it depends on how truncated the match is. And about the Duckworth-Lewis method, we can't think about it until it comes into play. We are ready for every eventuality."

Dravid's South African counterpart was slightly different in what he had to offer. "It can be frustrating," Graeme Smith said when asked whether watching weather reports instead of monitoring his team's performance was annoying. "But it's more frustrating when the dew plays such an important role in day-night matches in these parts."

By the evening, however, dew wasn't the most moist of talking points. What was at best a mild drizzle late in the afternoon, started gathering momentum and the drops of rain against the backdrop of streetlights were prominent and poignant. From a cricketing point of view, it was sad. This was actually supposed to be an engrossing contest between two sides striving to find their feet in the big league after days of turmoil. Both had succeeded in doing so to a large extent, with South Africa enjoying an unbeaten run of 20 ODIs. Greg Chappell's team wasn't doing badly either.

To an extent, these two teams are somewhat similar in approach, barring their preference and performance against spin bowling. If South Africa are trying to rediscover the Cronje-Woolmer days when they would puzzle the opposition with their flexibility and all-round approach, India under Chappell is trying to strike a similar kind of balance.

As indications were till late in the evening here on Monday, the teams will have to wait in their quest for excellence. Torrential rain near the Marina Beach was a breathtaking sight alright, but it was depressing as well, much like the depression that seems to have doubled Chennai's plight at a time when Indian cricket is heading the Chappell way.

First Published: Nov 22, 2005 03:16 IST