The Ranji Trophy Group A tie between Jharkhand and Delhi was a non-starter on Monday, because despite a blazing sun over Keenan Stadium, umpires Sanjay Hazare and Abhijeet Deshmukh found the pitch and outfield damp.
The no-show disappointed cricket enthusiasts who had flocked to Keenan to catch stars like Virendra Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir in action. Many fans had bagged berths on side galleries for a good view.
Some cricket fans said they were deprived of live cricket action ever since Dhurwa-based JSCA stadium in Ranchi became the state’s preferred venue to host ODIs and thus were looking forward to watch the Ranji tie.
“Looking at the sunny conditions, I was hopeful the match would start today. I wish the game does not fall prey to weather tomorrow,” said 45-year-old Pradip Kumar Jaiswal, a businessman from Dhatkidih.
Ramanuj Kumar, who has watched almost all 10 ODIs Keenan has hosted, was found sipping tea outside Old Pavilion. “I reached the ground at 8.45am with the hope to see my favourite cricketer Virender Sehwag play his cuts and drives. But, I was disappointed when the umpires declared their verdict,” said Kumar, a Kadma businessman.
Sixty-five-year-old Suresh Mahto had come armed with a lunch box to witness fireworks from Sehwag and Gambhir.
“After play was called off on Sunday, I was positive about witnessing some some action today. The sun was out and weather conditions looked good. But now I am forced to return home sadly,” Mahto, a retired employee of Tata Motors, said.
Vendors selling dosa, idli, chaat and tea did brisk business off hungry cricket fans. The stock of food items were exhausted by 11am.
“I am going home. There is nothing left,” smiled Niranjan Rao, a pushcart owner.
With the day’s play cancelled, some state players practised in the nets while others sweated out at the gym. The Delhi players cooled their heels at the hotel.
“The match will commence tomorrow (Tuesday) at Keenan if it does not rain tonight. The pitch, outfield and the bowlers’ run-up area are almost dry. Bringing the ground back to shape was a real tough task,” a ground staff said.