907dThe Report by Firdose Moonda

Wet outfield ruins Eden Gardens T20I

A waterlogged outfield forced the third T20 between South Africa and India to be abandoned without a toss or a ball bowled at Eden Gardens

Match Centre

Squad

Commentator: Alagappan Muthu

10.00 pm There we have it. The trophy is being passed around to most of the South African players as they pile up for the photos (Steyn and Morkel have arrived, by the way). India were due to try a few things - Rahane as opener, Raina at No. 3 and Amit Mishra as a second spinner and Stuart Binny as the allrounder. Could have been very interesting to see that. But oh well. Thank you for all your company and comments. Good night.

Faf du Plessis, the South African T20 captain, comes up to collect the series Trophy. "Disappointing, the rain played a huge role today. The players safety is quite important on such a long tour. I think its really important to acknowledge how hard it is to come to India and win a series. We will take a lot of confidence going into the ODIs. Saying that India will be fresh, they would want to set the recor straight. We need to be wary. We are very fortunate to have great leaderse in our team. Myself, Hashim and AB work really well together. We rely heavily on each other. JP did really well. Kagiso was fantastic as well, especially in the second game. The standout for me were the four seamers. I think in the first game, they got off to a great start, we pulled it back and then JP took over. But in the second game, to bowl India out for 90-odd, that doesn't happen a lot."

JP Duminy is the Man of the Series: "Very happy. Unfortunately we didn't get a game today. Would have been nice to have gotten another game under the belt. If someone had to give us 2-0, we would have taken it. Its always a tough series to play in India against India. Going to be a good five-match ODI series, Very exciting and we are definitely looking forward to it"

Big roar for MS Dhoni as he comes up for a chat at the presentation. "We wanted to make a few changes in the side. Wanted to change the batting order. It's sad that we were not able to play. This is one venue where you really want to play. Don't want to come here and then not play a game. Three changes, we were planning to make: Jinks was supposed to open, Raina to bat at No. 3 and Mishra would've played. Binny would've played too. See what really would have been best for us. Played here a lot, for the outfield to change a lot, I knew it wouldn't change. There was no sun. The rain was a lot too, even if it was only an hour. The ODIs will be good, again a lot will depend on the kind of venues and the toss as well. Kanpur being one of them. Dew is always a factor, once you play after Septemper. We would like to play the surface that is provided to us. But at the same time, we want to make the most of the home series. Don't want a lot of grass cover, difficult for the spinners with dew as well. "

9.30 pm Bad news, people. The game has been called off. We haven't had any rain since at least 6 pm, possibly before that even. Eden Gardens had at least three super soppers in action. And yet... Well, at least it was a dead rubber. South Africa take the series 2-0 and move to fifth in the ICC T20 rankings. India slip two places to sixth.

So not a ball bowled. The broadcast says the showers that have caused the damage to the ground happened at 2-2.30 pm local time. But the umpires have ruled the outfield had not dried sufficiently enough for play to go on. They reported to Chris Broad, the match referee, and the decision was taken thereafter. It must sting that no cricket was possible despite such a long period of dry weather. Let's not forget that this is where the World T20 final will be held in March next year. Won't do well to have this happening again.

chotu: "I feel for the ground staff who have worked their hearts out for 3 and half hours for the play to happen and it has been called off. Sadly, the work will also not be appreciated. "

Aravind: "Instead of covering 50% of the ground they should cover full ground which is possible. By this way they can start the game quickly after rain."

Cole: "The authorities should get a mouthful for this. They got more than six hours to clear the grounds. if this is their efficiency, then the T20 Worlds should go to Saudi Arabia."

9.15 pm Shahul is among the resigned few many : "we can go ahead with Super over " but there remains a little bit of hope.

Ryan: "Someday, in near future, I wish science to go so far that we can schedule cricket matches at venues with 0% possibility of rain."

Srihari: "@Ryan: That's pretty easy. Play all the games in the UAE ;) "

Dinesh: "The curator must be silently thankful that India already lost the series. Imagine the flak CAB would have received had this been a series decider!!"

8.35 pm Latest news is that there will be another inspection at 9.30 pm. And the cut-off for presumably a five-5 game would be 10.15 pm. We are nearing the 'match abandoned without a ball bowled' territory. And the rain had stopped over two hours ago. Virat Kohli, we can understand your sentiments.

sureshbabukrish: "probably its time for us to inspect some of the bars & restaurants.... till the match gets started!!!!!"

Jose P: "Was watching the first game's replay. It was a delight to see a beautiful drive through the covers by AB. Of Patel's bowling. Backlift - strike-follow through of the bat...it was a full circle! How delightful to watch. Was trying to think, who has the least backlift and follow thru ? Dhoni? Even if so, still exciting (need not be poetry) to watch Dhoni finishing of in style. Any chance of seeing that today, I wonder."

Salar: "With the delay cutting off the time as it is, I wonder why they don't just get over with the toss already. Might save 10 minutes once play is allowed to start."

8.25 pm The umpires have made their way back out. They'll have to make sure the ground is fit to play, especially the edges near the boundary which are normally not protected, and where fielders often have to dive around.

8.10 pm Into losing-overs territory now, and Sathyanarayanan says: "If India ends up batting first on a 12-15 over game, I dont see them posting big score with no 'X' Factor in the team" --- I remember Raina going mad in an IPL game once. Hit 80-odd off 30-odd balls. Maybe Dhoni will put his don't think, just hit policy to work too. Former India bowler Ajit Agarkar picked the two of them as the ones to watch.

Senthil : "Despite no rain for 3 hours and with 3 super soppers we can't have a 2 hour delayed match. I m not impressed and this can't be called world class" ---- Hey, things happen. Work is underway. And it isn't often that a T20 game in India is called off without a ball being bowled.

Rakesh: "I agree with Senthil. No rain for 3 hour's and still unable to clear a wet outfield, that too after a normal rain, not even a storm or a heavy downpour. Speaks about lack of proper planning, drainage and infrastructure."

Ishan: "@Senthil, may be they should have brought someone from Mirpur. Don't think any ground-staffs had to fight more rain on a single season than they fought in this June-July. :P"

Vishwas Iyengar: "These negative comments for Eden gardens are a little harsh. I am sure the ground crew is working tirelessly, it is not like they don't want a match. Laws of nature, Rain, are out of their control - who knows what "specific" problems were caused. "

yashas: "@Senthil & Rakesh: Hey, call me a cynic, but i would like more rain. Its better 2-0 than 3-0. "

7.40 pm. Another inspection at 8.30 pm, confirmed by a BCCI tweet: "Despite the lack of rain of late, the umpires aren't happy. Inspection at 20:30 Local." So that means we probably won't get a full game; we are supposed to start losing overs from 8 pm. And worse case scenario - 10.15 pm appears to be the cut-off time to call off the game.

Preetam: "It would be very interesting to see who all would make in playing 11 if the games squeezes to 12 to 15 over. " --- And that puts the emphasis on out-and-out power hitting, and the chasing side might just end up with a decisive advantage.

7.30 pm The three umpires are going on a lap around the outfield. Right now they are at the 30-yard circle. The supersoppers are still out. I think we are slowly getting to the point where this one will finally start. But keep in mind, 8 pm is the cut-off point when we might be losing overs.

7.25 pm The Indians have made their way back to the dressing room with the umpires' inspection five minutes away. Don't think the South Africans came out, by the way. We should be getting some news, and hopefully of the good kind, very soon.

Bharath Seervi: "Rohit Sharma scored 177 in his first Test at Eden Gardens, scored 264 in his first ODI at Eden Gardens. Today is his first T20I at Eden Gardens, if the match is on. "

koka: "@Bharat Seervi : Add to the fact that He won two IPL's as a captain for mumbai."

7.15 pm Meanwhile Sourav Ganguly, who is running things at the Cricket Association of Bengal, has been spotted having a little chat with MS Dhoni and the South African captain Faf du Plessis. Topic seems to be the condition of the ground, judging from how Faf points to parts of the Eden Gardens. Supersoppers (three that I can spot) are on full alert, by the way.

Amid the spotlight on this game, almost silently, South Africa fast bowler Rusty Theron has announced his retirement from all forms of the game at the age of 30. For context, Misbah-ul-Haq at 41 is still fit and firing in Test cricket at least.

James: "Rusty was a decent enough bowler, but never good enough to be a first team regular... More of a fringe player. Taking that into account, as well as the transformation targets they have in South African sports, his chances of making it into and remaining in the national side are very limited!"

Muhammed: "@ James Rusty was given a national contract before he ever played an international game. He would have been our death over specialist, and a handy hitter down the order, with many years of experience behind him in the 2015 world cup if injuries never kept pushing him back in the queue."

6.50 pm MS Dhoni and some others of the Indian team are out on the field right now, playing a little bit of football. A little stretching of the legs, it seems. Most of the ground is uncovered now. Only a small fraction of the square remains protected. The umpires are checking the solidity of the turf underfoot as well. Inspection at 7.30 pm

koka: "What's the cut-off time before we lose any overs ?" ---- The general rule is that overs start getting cut after an hour of no play from the scheduled start. So around 8pm

Apoorv: "As T20 cricket matures, it has begun to differentiate more and more from other two forms. It is good that a team not showing flexibility to innovate (India) loses and is forced to get back to the strategy table. Maybe in time we would see a T20 side which is almost completely different from the ODI side."

siddharth aryan certainly thinks the game is being overanalysed: "Apoorv Sir, cricket is the game of hitting the ball............nothing else....... no differentiation or categorization needed.....for t20 from ODI........ Just need only two things.......a bat and ball. "

Manu: "@Siddharth Aryan, are you sure your real name is not Virender Sehwag?" ---- Speaking of whom, enjoy this lovely recollection from the man himself. Virender Sehwag on his first Ranji Trophy (first-class) game

sai krishna: "Why does India stick with the same 11 for t20's. There are far more entertaining and "t20 specialists" around. agarwal, vohra, surya kumar yadav etc" --- South Africa certainly have jumped on that bandwagon. They want to see AB as opener. They are quite excited about Kagiso Rabada and Kyle Abbott as the next wave of fast bowlers after Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. JP Duminy and Farhaan Behardien have taken over the finisher's roles. Lots of depth there.

ram: "@Commentator All your talk about SA having settled team and India going with same set of players is rubbish !!!. Did any of the 2 teams played at least 20 games with same team to come to a conclusion like this?? Stop making judgments over a sparse data."

Sidhu: "@Ram: I agree that we should not judge on sparse data. However, Monga made a good point that Indian top order batsmen have similar roles in their IPL teams, which is why they have not been able to adapt well. Virat, Rohit, Dhawan, Rahane are openers in their franchises and Raina usually plays at 3. However, in Indian team, Virat comes at 3 and Raina at 4. Rahane is no where to be seen. I think its more about figuring out a right batting line up and play freely. Giving a chance to new look T20 side isnt a bad idea at all. Look how India A performed"

Apoorv: "@Ram: That is another important point. Not playing enough matches. Why do teams don't play enough T20 matches? Because the same players play too many ODIs and Tests. A different set of T20 players may address that issue."

Sushil: "I agree with some of the people here Vohra, Yusuf Pathan, Suryakumar, Nehra, who performed impressively for their teams in IPL should be in India's squad. They can also consider Aggarwal and Sreyas Iyer to increase bench strength to prepare them for future. Performance in IPL should be taken into consideration because the T20 World cup will be played in India and that is before the next IPL. "

6.35 pm "My mental set up does not really change [whether I am captain or not]," Virat Kohli tells the broadcaster, "Feeling pretty good. Batting quite well since Sri Lanka, and been talking a lot with Sanjay Bangar and we felt I am hitting the ball a lot better than I ever have. Just have to work on my balance at the crease and my contact points. Dharamsala was a first experience of playing a different sort of role, just taking singles and giving Rohit the strike. In the second game, unfortunately, I got run out. It happens in international cricket. But personally, pretty happy with the way I am hitting the ball"

"As a team it hurts you because you are playing at home. We are more used to the conditions than South Africa are. But we have not played too many T20 games since the World Cup last year. We have a lot of T20 games now, going forward into the World T20. The key is to not be too hard on ourselves, and we just need to learn from these games. It is actually a blessing in disguise working out our combination before the big event"

6.20 pm The toss should have been around the corner now but heavy showers have delayed it. We are over an hour away from the umpires' inspection itself. There is no rain now and the Eden Gardens groundsmen are hard at work. For now, we can expect some sort of a match to go ahead.

Idrees: "Dont understand why they need to give 1hour to do the inspection. just see what the conditions are like you are there at the ground anyways and as soon as you feel it is fit to play go ahead with the toss and commence the game." ---- I suspect it is to make sure the ground has dried off. News was that the turf close to the practice pitches were quite damp underfoot. Ideally, once the umpires decide conditions are okay we should get cricket immediately.

South Africa have the series in the bag - an ideal start considering this is a humongous tour, both in terms of significance and sheer length. David Miller spoke about the confidence the side has gained so far, having put in two strong performances in conditions that have traditionally got the best of South Africans. Of course, the World T20 will be in these parts in March. So any success now will contribute to the feel-good factor.

sumanth: "kohli has to open alongside dhawan and rahane should be back in place of rayudu. even mishra deserves a chance in this pride saving match.."

Sree: "@sumanth - So you are saying Rohit should be dropped from the opening position one game after he hit a T20 century!!? Are you sure you have a better replacement?"

6.00 pm It is not raining for the moment, but Eden has taken on a lot of water and a few parts of the ground are unfit to play on at the moment. For the moment, a prompt start can be ruled out. Umpires will go out for an inspection 7.30 pm. So the bottomline is that we have way more time for our build-up. Let's start with Firdose Moonda's preview and Sidharth Monga's take on the lack of dynamism in the Indian T20 batting line-up.

"Killing my time since morning reading about the match..God please don't do this," groans Siddhartha.

5.30 pm It seems Kolkata has not taken kindly to the fact that it has to host a dead rubber. Rain was predicted and it has arrived. Covers have been brought on at the Eden.