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February 16, 2009
A repeat of the 1997 farce between India and Sri Lanka in Indore nearly took place on the outskirts of Rajkot during the one-dayer between Gujarat and Mumbai. The match had to be abandoned 6.5 overs into the first innings after the pitch was deemed dangerous for play, but luckily for the organisers, another pitch at the Khandheri Cricket Ground was ready to be used in quick time. The game was restarted again and, unlike the recent Antigua fiasco, the teams just had to adjust to the playing strip shifting a few yards.
Gujarat, who won the contest eventually, had chosen to bat on what appeared to be a flat track. But the unpredictable nature of the newly-laid surface became an issue, with puffs of dust emerging when the ball hit certain patches at both ends. It soon became nasty. Gujarat opener Jesal Karia was hit in the ribs by a straightforward delivery from Dhawal Kulkarni, and another ball from Kulkarni pitched on a good length and climbed over Parthiv Patel's head.
Fearing injury to the players, Parthiv, the Gujarat captain, and his Mumbai counterpart Wasim Jaffer spoke to the on-field umpires. The match referee was consulted and the game was abandoned. However, it was decided to start a new game on an adjacent pitch. An hour's play was lost in readying the track for the game, which was reduced to 41 overs a side, and the captains walked out again for the toss. Mumbai, who won it this time around, chose to bat and even made a change to their side, with medium-pacer Wilkin Mota replacing Ankit Chavan. The game went on without any further pitch troubles, and Gujarat chased down Mumbai's 222.
Pravin Amre, Mumbai's coach, told Cricinfo he was unhappy with the unprepared pitch, and pointed out that it could have potentially put two of his players - Rohit Sharma and Dhawal Kulkarni - in danger of sustaining an injury right before their departure for India's tour of New Zealand. However, he did not blame his team's loss on the pitch switch.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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