Ahmedabad gamble backfires on organisers
Last Friday, the organisers of the Champions League were busy preparing to move Monday's crucial Group B double-header out of Ahmedabad due to the torrential rain that had washed out a double-header and forced another game to be rescheduled to Jaipur last week.
Suddenly, the weather cleared on Friday evening and the Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) assured the CLT20 officials that if there was no more rain, they could make a submerged Motera stadium playable by Monday afternoon.
This in itself was surprising since Motera is far from being a modern cricket venue. With an age-old drainage system, even a short shower makes the outfield soggy. Still, the GCA hadn't organised sheets that would cover the whole field of play and not just the inner circle, a step that has worked well in keeping outfields dry in Sri Lanka, where matches are often interrupted by heavy rain.
Yet on Saturday, all the four teams involved in Monday's double-header - Trinidad & Tobago, Titans, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Brisbane Heat - who had been told to be on standby for flying to Ranchi in case the venue was switched, were informed their matches would not be rescheduled, despite a scattered thunderstorm being predicted for Monday.
No doubt the CLT20 organisers had their hands full of problems. First and foremost, with a plethora of important tournaments clashing with CLT20 - the A series against West Indies, Challengers Series, Under-19 quadrangular series and the Duleep Trophy - the CLT20 team had to struggle to find venues for matches with clear weather.
To add to their woes, there were limited options to move Monday's double-header, if the need arose. Mohali, which staged a few games early on in the tournament including qualifiers, couldn't stage it since the in-stadia branding had been removed from the PCA Stadium. Jaipur couldn't host a match for three nights in succession due to a lack of pitches and the Delhi stadium wasn't available as it was only scheduled to be ready in time for the knockouts. As a result, the only possible venue for the double-header to be shifted was Ranchi, where a big hurdle was accommodating four teams in five-star hotels at such short notice.
The CLT20 organisers went ahead and took the risk of not moving the games out of Ahmedabad. However, it backfired badly as a heavy downpour arrived just as the first match of the day was heading towards a thrilling finish, thus possibly robbing Titans of a place in the semi-finals. And even though the storm subsided after about 45 minutes, it was enough to give the Motera the look of a mini-swimming pool and wash out the late game, thus taking away the possibility of Sunrisers keeping themselves in the hunt for a place in the semi-finals.
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo