Rain threatens to mar Ind-SA test in Chennai

Published: Monday, March 24, 2008, 3:35 [IST]
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Chennai: The fate of the first test between India and South Africa, beginning at the M A Chidambaram Stadium here on March 26, again seems to be at the mercy of weather as the forcasts for the next few days are not much encouraging due to the formation of a fresh trough of low pressure over Gulf of Mannar today.

The last two Tests played here in 2004 and 2005 were affected by rainfall.

A steady downpour robbed a fascinating final day's play between India and Australia in October 2004 and again in December 2005, the first three days of a Test match between India and Sri Lanka were abandoned.

Even the ODIs were not spared by rain as the weather played truant leading to abandoning of the India-New Zealand Match in October 2003 and the India-South Africa contest in November 2005.

Chennai has got a Test match after a gap of three years and a steady spell of rain this morning has forced indoors the South African players training at the ground.

The city received a heavy battering with a record 70 mm rainfall on a single day three days back due to a low pressure, as scores of cricket fans, hoping for a full-fledged test in six years, kept their fingers crossed. The last full test played here was in October 2002 when India beat West Indies by eight wickets.

The smiles were back on their faces as the rains abated due to the weakening of the low pressure on March 22. Bright sunshine and blue skies welcomed both the teams which had rigorous sessions at the nets yesterday and the day before.

The sky opened up this morning with just a day remaining for the match, putting the cricket fans and the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association, which was involved in a legal wrangle after the ODI in 2005 was abandoned, in a quandry.

Weather office sources told UNI here today, the 'feeble' trough of low pressure was expected to bring rain or thundershowers at a few places over Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry during the next 48 hours, with heavy showers in one or two places.

This news is not that much encouraging from the game's point of view and for cricketers and spectators alike.

The outfield at the cricket stadium had taken a heavy pounding during the recent rains and the ground staff worked overtime to bring it back to a fine shape.

With fresh rains this morning, the ground conditions have become wet and also poses a threat to what is expected to be a fascinating five-day contest from March 26, especially in the context of the Proteas making their maiden appearance in a test match in this historic venue.

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