New Delhi: No play was possible on the second consecutive day of the Ranji Trophy semi-final clash between Mumbai and Services at Palam ground on Saturday despite the sun beating down brightly right from the morning. It had rained heavily on Thursday night and the covers on the pitch were blown away by the mighty squall. The water penetrated deep into the pitch which made it extremely wet and sticky.
The drizzling continued on Friday which didn't allow even a single ball being bowled but what happened on Saturday put a serious question mark on the BCCI's decision to hold such an important match at a venue which doesn't even have basic facilities and infrastructure. The sun came out in full bloom on Saturday and the ground staff put in a lot of efforts to dry the pitch but their endeavour came a cropper due to lack of cutting-edge equipment and the slack approach of the management. It was a frustrating sight to see the play been called off despite the bright, sunny day.
While Services cricketers spent time by practicing and training in the nets, only half of the Mumbai team turned up as rest of the players preferred the luxury of their plush hotel rather than sweating at the ground.
The bad light only allowed 143 overs to be bowled on the first two days and visitors piled up 380 for 6 with skipper Ajit Agarkar (113*) and Aditya Tare (108*) compiling an unbroken stand of 211 runs for the sixth wicket. The first innings of both teams is highly unlikely to be completed on the fifth day hence the match will be stretched to the sixth day and if still the innings remain uncompleted, the toss will decide the outcome of the match.
The Mumbai coach Sulakshan Kulkarni told reporters after the match that ground staff did a creditable job to make the pitch ready for play though he refused to comment on the available facilities and infrastructure. "The ground staff at Palam pitched in a fine effort to dry the pitch with whatever facilities are at their disposal. As far as the infrastructure and equipment are concerned, I cannot comment on it. You people have already written about it and you are the best judge. It is frustrating to sit back and see the game being robbed due to various factors but nothing can be done about it."