Wet weather delays start of Test series
Wet weather delayed the start of the first Test between South Africa and India in Centurion, and persistent rain for more than 24 hours threatened to wash out the first day of play.
Between 30 and 50 millimetres of rain poured down over Centurion since Tuesday. The downpour subsided and the rain was nothing more than a light drizzle by mid-morning. Sporadic bursts were still intermittently interrupting the soft sprinkle. The rain is set to continue into the afternoon although it will get lighter as the day goes on. By Thursday evening, the skies are expected to clear with sun predicted for all of Friday.
Some may think that SuperSport Park will need all the sunshine it can get, but chief groundsman Hilbert Smit said the drainage system is very good. "It will take two to three hours after the rain stops before it will be completely dry," he told ESPNcricinfo.
The super-sopper was ready for action as well but can only be used once the rain has stopped completely. "It will be pointless to send it out now," Smit said. Some work was being done on the outfield where ankle-deep puddles had collected at the boundary rope. The groundstaff were working to guide the water down the drains into the moat. The rest of the outfield, while wet, had no water collected on it.
It's a testament to the excellent facilities Smit made mention of. The extent of the flash flooding around the area, though, was grave and people parked at the Hennops River end of the ground were asked to evacuate their cars because the area was flooded. The square remained covered and a tent had been erected over the pitch, to allow the groundsmen room to work. "We are cutting and rolling at the moment, and keeping an eye on the pitch," Smit said.
An entire Test has never been washed out in Centurion or anywhere else in South Africa, which bodes well for the prospects of this match, although play may only start on the second day. Seven Test matches have been washed out in cricket history and South Africa have not featured in any of them. India were involved in the in the last match to be rained out, against New Zealand in 1998.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent