Downpour shortens tour game to Twenty20
A heavy downpour in the afternoon followed by intermittent drizzle delayed the start of the tour match between the Indians and Kent Spitfires at the St Lawrence ground and eventually forced the umpires to switch the 50-over game to a 20-over one.
The Indians arrived in Canterbury on Thursday night immediately after their six-wicket victory over Sussex at Hove. It was their first win of the tour and the visitors would like to keep the winning rhythm after their 4-0 whitewash in the Test series.
Unfortunately, the Indians were forced to sit inside the dressing room, apart from walking downstairs into the long room housed in the Frank Woolley stand for their lunch. Outside thousands of Indian fans waded through water that cascaded down the slope of the front entrance of the ground. The die-hard fans continued to stand there, cuddled up in their woollens and jackets, under umbrellas, waiting just to get a sneak peak at the Indian players.
The umpires carried out their first inspection at 4 p.m. and were straightaway concerned by the wet areas in outfield. Even though the match was converted into a Twenty20, the umpires were worried about the practice strips to the right of the Frank Woolley stand on the pavilion side as the fielders could easily slip. Though the sun had come out for the first time half-way through the day, the umpires remained dissatisfied and after another inspection at 5 p.m, decided on a third at 6 p.m and then at 6:30 decided the game had to be reduced to a Twenty20 starting at 7:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, in a piece of good news for the Indians, Gautam Gambhir was batting in the indoor nets facing throwdowns from the bowling coach Eric Simons. Gambhir, who picked up a concussion in the fourth Test, was not listed on the team sheet distributed at the start of the day. Rahul Dravid, who played for Kent in 2000, will play the match while Sachin Tendulkar will be the twelfth man.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo