Wet outfield abandons India's warm-up tie

Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2001, 22:42 [IST]
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Chatsworth (South Africa): The Indian cricket team suffered a "big setback" on Tuesday, when a scheduled three-day match against a South African President's XI was abandoned due to a wet outfield, team manager Mahendra Bhargava said. This meant India has lost its only first-class fixture before the first of three Tests against South Africa, which starts in the central city of Bloemfontein on Saturday.

"We have four new players who have joined us for the Test series and it was their only chance to play before the first Test," Bhargava said. "We are very sorry we have lost this match," he said. Bhargava offered only mild criticism of arrangements for the match but Cassim Docrat, chief executive of the KwaZulu-Natal Cricket Union, admitted it was "very embarrassing".

The match was scheduled at the Chatsworth Oval, south of the East coast port city of Durban, in an area where South Africans mainly of Indian descent live. The tie was a chance to see the Indian team in action. But facilities at the grounds, run by the greater Durban metropolitan council, proved woefully inadequate. The drainage system appeared to be blocked and an uncut outfield was sodden when play was due to start on Monday, even though there had been only light rain in the days leading up to the match.

A heavy downpour on Monday night made the prospects of any play on the remaining two days impossible. Bhargava said he was disappointed at the poor drainage and a shortage of ground staff. "The ground itself was okay, but the facilities for the ground to dry were not good. There were not a lot of people to dry it," Bhargava said.

Attempts to reschedule the match at another venue were unsuccessful, with leading club grounds also affected by the Monday night rain. Kingsmead, Durban's Test ground, could not be used because a four-day inter- provincial match starts on Friday. The team then tried to get to Bloemfontein early but was stymied by two factors - rain in Bloemfontein and a lack of flights. Finally it settled for its original departure time on Thursday morning and made plans to have net practices at Kingsmead on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday.


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