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Rain’s the pain on match eve

Chennai: Much against the mood of the ongoing revival series, the heavens are planning to spill water on the opening India-Pakistan one-dayer of the three-match series, at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, on Sunday.

The excitement that the T20 series provided is expected to be multiplied during the one-dayers. But the waether seems to be a road block.

Sunday is supposed to be the India’s first ODI after Sachin Tendulkar retirement from the limited overs format of the game. If The Master’s absence isn’t a dampner enough for the fans, they will have to put up with a damp Chepauk, threatening to ruin the match.

Consistent rain since Friday has rocked the city and what is worse, it is not expected to stop in the next couple of days. The met office has predicted light to heavy showers for Sunday, which raises the possibility of the day match, scheduled to start at 9am, being called off or delayed. Even if the rain stops, the early start will also not provide the ground ample time to dry up.

Both the teams had reached the city early on Saturday morning and were scheduled to practice in the afternoon. However, the rain forced the teams to stay indoors, while the pitch was kept under covers throughout the day.

“It would come as a big disappointment if the match is not played,” said a member of the local organising committee. “Chennai has really geared up for the Indo-Pak match... We have already sold all the tickets and have been flooded with requests for more,” he added.

Coming back to cricket proper, though Tendulkar, in the recent past, was choosy about playing one-dayers, he undoubtedly remained India’s greatest batsman.

“Despite the fact that he picked and chose matches in the last one year, he had a great impact on the players and youngsters… He will be missed by all of us. Our young players will have to perform now,” captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said.

This will also be the first one-dayer India would play under the new regulations. And Dhoni looked clearly unhappy with the new set. “Too many changes are being made… I am not happy with it,” he said.

Despite the threat of rain, a full house is expected to greet the teams. Apart from being the first one-day series between the two sides since the 2008 Mumbai terror, the there-match battle would also offer India the opportunity to claim the No.1 spot in the ODI rankings.

Currently ranked third in the table behind England and South Africa, a victory against Pakistan on Sunday would take India to the top. But a defeat in any of the three matches would drag them back to the third place.

Given the way the two T20 matches were played, the one-day series will certainly bring the best out of the arch rivals. Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq put it in simple words as he said it would be a “hard-fought” series. He even went to the extent of saying that an India-Pakistan series is better than the Ashes.

The Ahmedabad triumph means India would definitely be high on confidence. To add to it would be Yuvraj Singh’s smashing form.

“Yuvraj is a superb batsman… He did exceptionally well in the last match. But we also have plans for him,” said the Pakistan captain.

Teams

India (from): Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Ashok Dinda, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ravindra Jadeja, Rohit Sharma, Amit Mishra and Shami Ahmed.

Pakistan (likely): Misbah-ul Haq (captain), Nasir Jamshed, Mohammed Hafeez, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal, Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz, Saeed Ajmal and Mohammed Irfan.

Umpires: Billy Bowden and S Ravi. TV: Sudhir Asnani.

Match Referee: Roshan Mahanama.

Match starts at 9 am.