Ten overs into India's chase, only one over after the dinner break, play was stopped for more than half an hour in the Napier ODI because of the sun. Yes, the sun. The setting sun was at an awkward angle and straight in the batsman's eye.
McLean Park has a previous for it with the angle of the sun at around 7pm making it unsafe to play cricket. Two years ago, a T20I between Bangladesh and New Zealand was held up because of the same issue. On January 19 this year, a Super Smash match between Central Districts and Canterbury was also stopped for a while. The organisers were actually hoping for some cloud cover during the ODI between India and New Zealand.
The reason this happens at McLean Park is because of the east-west alignment of the pitches at the ground. Most cricket grounds have pitches running north to south.
"There's nothing we can really do, to be honest, and it's not the first time it has happened," Central Districts chief executive Pete de Wet told New Zealand Herald, alluding to the Bangladesh T20I. De Wet hoped the sun-strike would happen during the innings break, which it did, but the play that resumed at 7.15pm caught the end of it on a lovely summer's day.
South African umpire Shaun George said he had never seen such an occurrence in his 14-year umpiring career. "The setting sun is in the eyes of the players and we need to think of the safety of the players as well as umpires," he said. He also said the move to go off was initiated by the umpires. "There was an awareness of it by the players but they didn't appeal."
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said at the press conference there was no other option but to wait in such a situation. "We haven't had to deal with too many sun-strikes. But we knew that in some of the domestic T20 games that had been the case... and it's fairly considerable so it did have to happen because it's hard to move the sun and hard to move the grandstand. So we didn't have any other option and we had to sit down for a bit."