April 20, 2003

Rain forces final to be postponed

For their second final in three tournaments, the Indians watched it pour down. It rained with such ferocity that some of the thundershowers penetrated the roof of the television studio covering the game; not only was the match not possible, neither was coverage.

There was a reserve day, of course, just as there was in the Champions Trophy last year, when India played two half-games against Sri Lanka. A new kind of finals jinx is beginning to emerge.

India had arrived in Bangladesh without a host of senior players - Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Javagal Srinath, Anil Kumble and Ashish Nehra. And they have been hit by injury during the tournament, with Zaheer Khan, Yuvraj Singh and Sourav Ganguly all missing games. Yuvraj and Ganguly were fit to play the final, though Zaheer Khan, who had recovered from his hamstring strain, had reportedly caught a virus after that. Perhaps an extra day's recuperation could help.

The final, if it does take place tomorrow, is a big game for Graeme Smith. His captaincy stuttered to an uneasy start when he denied Shaun Pollock of the new ball in the early league games, but he adapted quickly when his plan did not work, and Pollock reverted to opening the bowling. All of South Africa's top five batsmen have made fifties in this tournament, and after their win against India in the last league game, the momentum is with them.

But what about the weather?