Bazz plays Jazz with cricket
Daminda Wijesuriya reporting from Chennai
Ominous gray skies and a wet outfield prevented the start of the first cricket test between Sri Lanka and India for the second consecutive day at M. A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai yesterday. Heavy overnight rains kept the outfield soggy and the sun was shy to peep through the clouds. Cyclone bazz which was heading towards Sri Lanka three days ago veered away from the Island and now has hit Chennai spoiling the first two days of the first test.
Weather forecast predicted more rain yesterday but none came down until the second inspection by the two umpires at 12.50 p.m.

During the inspection, the two umpires, Darryl Harper (Australia) and Mark Benson (England) walked very carefully on the out field to make sure that they don't slip. The two officials agreed to call off the play for the second day and to start the third day's play at 9.00 a.m, (9.30 Sri Lanka time) provided the weather permits.

Umpire Darryl Harper said the conditions are so bad and "even the Super Sopper wouldn't do much on it" "No problem with the square. The Only problem is the outfield" "There is moisture on the surface with lots of mud now" said Harper, who has officiated many of the test matches that Sri Lanka played, at home and overseas.

Conditions are not expected to improve until the sun comes out of the clouds. Yet another rain last night would dampen the hopes of play getting started before lunch today.

"If we don't have rain between now and then (last night) hopefully we'll get some play on the third day" Harper said after the inspection.

The two teams stayed in their hotels and only Indian coach Greg Chappell and skipper Rahul Dravid came to the ground in the afternoon. The captain went around the ground, greeting some of his ardent fans waiting for a start, before going back to the hotel in disappointment.

From the player's point of view, it was not enjoyable in hotel rooms when a test match is yet to be started. The changing conditions add pressure to their minds and nervousness grows. "It is difficult for us as players and obviously the first day of any test match is nervous" "We have that nervous energy that builds up" said Indian skipper Rahul Dravid.

There was no end of the gray clouds coming from the East sky and ground authorities were reluctant to remove the covers too. Once they did and dried up a spot on the pitch with a local system but quickly replaced covers fearing another downpour.

The wicket having been covered for two days, both teams have to change their tactics upside down. Teams will be selected accordingly and it's going to be yet another headache for Jehan Mubarak and Sourav Ganguly.


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