Rain relief for India

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Frequent cloudbursts that began early on Monday morning ensured that not a single ball was bowled on the second day of India’s first Test in Sri Lanka at the Galle International Stadium.

Though most of the players from both teams didn’t even turn up at the stadium, there wasn’t lack of action.

The ground staff, consisting of 100-odd groundsmen, tried their best to get the ground ready for play every time the rain took a breather.

Following the early morning heavy downpour that lasted almost two hours, it was clear that Sri Lanka would not resume their domination from their overnight score of 256 for two before lunch.

Just when the ground staff, led by Jayananda Warnaweera, started removing covers — mind you, they cover the whole outfield and cushion it with truck tyres so that covers are not blown away by strong sea winds — there was again a heavy spell of rain that lasted almost an hour.

Suddenly, after lunch, the skies cleared up and Warnaweera’s men were again in action. They uncovered the whole ground and started mopping the wet patches in the outfield. At 1.50pm, umpires Daryl Harper and Rod Tucker had a close look at conditions and decided to have another inspection 2.30 pm.

Soon after came another heavy spell of showers, which effectively put an end to any hope of some play in the last session. Though the Indian team reached the venue at tea time, most of them preferred to rest in the dressing room. When play was officially called off at 3.15 pm, Yuvraj Singh, recovering from a stiff neck, was knocking a few balls with coach Gary Kirsten and bowling coach Eric Simons in the indoor facility.

With a full day’s play lost due to unseasonal rains, India’s chances of returning to Colombo for the next two Tests without trailing in the series have risen. But with heavy rains predicted on Tuesday and the weather gods likely to make their presence for the last two days as well, it will not be a surprise if Muttiah Muralitharan’s farewell Test turns out to be a damp squib.

“It is sad to see the rain coming in, especially with Murali’s involvement and his retirement. Let’s hope the weather forecast for the remaining days does not hold true,” Sri Lanka Cricket secretary Nishantha Ranatunga said.

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