Chennai: Sachin Tendulkar looked up to the skies as the sun made a brief appearance at the Chepauk on Monday afternoon. The gym session had just ended and as the rest of the players trooped into the dressing room, Sachin tried to gauge the weather. A wry smile crossed his lips as he made his way back.
The world record of maximum ODI appearances may have to wait till Eden Gardens unless there’s a dramatic improvement in the gloomy conditions here. It rained intermittently the whole of Monday and, if the forecast is to be believed, the depression in the Bay of Bengal is unlikely to clear by Tuesday.
Greg Chappell and Rahul Dravid made a brief inspection of the wicket once the covers were removed, but there was no question of any further action on the field. The South Africans, except for Graeme Smith who came for the customary media conference on the eve of game III of the Pepsi Cup, stayed put at the hotel.
“This is something beyond our control,” Dravid said. “It doesn’t concern us much in the sense that we have got to keep our preparations going. Hopefully, things will clear by the morrow.”
Rain during this time of the year is not new to the city. The second monsoon, as they call it, has been on from last month itself causing widespread waterlogging.
Thankfully, the wet spell has not affected the preparation of the wicket. It has been rolled heavily to ward off the effects of dampness. “A good wicket' firm. It won’t turn as much as Bangalore unless the sun shines brightly. It should help the batsmen,” was how Dravid read it.
Smith shared similar views. Coach Mickey Arthur described it as “the best seen on tour”.
The visitors’ unbeaten 20-match streak may have been broken in Bangalore, but Smith’s motivation for “winning a series in India” intact.
Charl Langeveldt, who pulled his left hamstring in Hyderabad, “looks to be fit”, but will have to go through the customary fitness test on Tuesday.
Dew will not be a hindrance here, if curator K. Parthasarathy is to be believed.
Dravid did not read much into missing the practice session. “All the boys have played a lot of cricket and missing out on one day doesn’t make much of a difference. We’re professional enough to take such eventualities in our stride.”
Though Dravid had said on Sunday that the winning combination would be retained, but considering the weather, a final announcement wasn’t made on the eve of the game.
A truncated game could bring the Duckworth-Lewis formula into play. “A truncated match does make a difference' But we have to see how truncated it gets,” Dravid remarked.
The Indian captain rubbished talks of designer wickets to ensure victories. “We don’t go around with our home wickets. We have the ability to win on any surface. Our bowlers can do well in all conditions.”
Chappell is not underestimating South Africa either. “We knew this was going to be a tight series, and it will be, irrespective of what happens here,” he said.
“Their side has allround depth' Flexibility and confidence. They have good strategies and are a good unit. You can’t notice any glaring weakness. But we have some idea of their strategies from the first two games and have to work on them.”
India (from): Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Irfan Pathan, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Rahul Dravid, Mohammed Kaif, Yuvraj Singh, Ajit Agarkar, Murali Kartik, Harbhajan Singh, Rudra Pratap Singh, Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, S. Sreesanth, Jai Prakash Yadav.
South Africa (from): Graeme Smith, AB de Villiers, Justin Ontong, Jacques Kallis, Ashwell Prince, Justin Kemp, Mark Boucher, Shaun Pollock, Johan Botha, Andre Nel, Makhaya Ntini, Andrew Hall, Albie Morkel, Robin Peterson, Charl Langeveldt.
Umpires: Daryl Harper, K. Hariharan. TV: A.V. Jayaprakash.
Match Referee: Jeff Crowe.
Match starts: 2.30 pm.