The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Super-damper on Eden 60,000
- 1-hour burst sinks one-dayer

Feb. 8: Calcuttans waited 15 months for a one-day International, but when it did get underway this afternoon, it didn’t last more than 18.2 overs.

And Sourav Ganguly, who helped draw a full house (around 90,000) at the Eden, didn’t bat. Five Sri Lankans did.

While yet another India versus Sri Lanka face-off here didn’t end the way it should have, the 60,000-plus spectators who’d waited four-and-a-half hours for play to resume, had one question: Did the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) arm itself adequately to counter the elements'

The CAB has two super soppers, but despite the Met department’s warning of thundershowers, one stayed put at the Jadavpur University Campus in Salt Lake!

President Prasun Mukherjee (also the city’s commissioner of police), who completed one week in the chair today, didn’t find that odd.

“There was no forecast for such a downpour. It was beyond anyone’s imagination. There was so much water underneath that play wasn’t possible. The super sopper only helps the top layer to dry.”

Mukherjee, however, admitted “there are lessons to be learnt.”

His innings has begun inauspiciously and he may well ask if lieutenants actually planned for every eventuality.

The downpour was heavy, yes, but rain stopped within an hour.

“The ground staff tried hard, but removing water from the surface is different from drying the ground. As it was a day-night match, there was no sun to facilitate natural drying,” senior on-field umpire Simon Taufel told The Telegraph.

The International Cricket Council’s best for three years in-a-row added: “There really was too much water and the principal reason why my colleague (Suresh Shastri) and I took along both captains at the final inspection was for their concurrence. We also wanted the crowd to see Rahul Dravid and Mahela Jayawardene were thinking on the same lines as us.

“Of course, that the World Cup is just over a month away was a small reason as well for that joint exercise….”

No captain would risk injuries in soft underfoot conditions.

For “security reasons,” except the captains, the teams left even as the final inspection (a few minutes before the scheduled 8.30 pm) was on.

That the match had been “called off” was flashed on the electronic scoreboard after the umpires and captains went off the field.

Anticipating that, a section of the crowd had begun hurling missiles. It began from the right of the Club House and quickly spread to the left and beyond.

It made some senior police officers remove caps and don helmets, but the evacuation of the stands went off without a physical showdown.

The police personnel, though, remained on edge and walkie-talkies crackled with queries such as “tomar jaygaykichu gondogol ki hocche'”

It could have become nasty had word spread there would be no refunds.

The bottomline, indeed, could have been as disgraceful as the one in the 1996 World Cup semi-final.

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