The India v New Zealand World Cup semi-final was progressing fine till the first ball of the 47th over of New Zealand's innings, when the rain forced the players off. No play was possible after that, pushing the game to the reserve day, where it will resume from the point at which it stopped. With New Zealand at 211 for 5 and Ross Taylor still in the middle, which team has the advantage? We asked Sambit Bal and Andrew Fidel Fernando, our writers at the ground.
Varun Shetty: First of all, what do you guys think about the reserve day? Something everyone wanted early in the tournament, and ICC was criticised heavily for not having any during the group stages. As of today - did they get it right?
Sambit Bal: I think so. There was no other way. They couldn't have had reserve days in the league stage. But for the knockouts, it was a must.
Andrew Fidel Fernando: Probably wasn't completely practical to have for every day, given the logistics involved. TV crews are moving from venue to venue. Broadcasters have channels assigned to show the cricket, and obviously will have two matches to broadcast simultaneously if the game from the previous day goes into the reserve day. Having reserve days for the knockouts, though, makes sense. You have a little time to breathe in between games.
VS: Continuing where it stopped rather than having a new game - also a win for the ICC? Or are there are significant advantages/disadvantages?
AFF: I think we have the most sensible system now. Try to get a day in on the assigned day. If it goes into tomorrow, pick up from where you left off.
SB: Yes. A new game would have been silly. We saw what happened in the Champions Trophy 2002 final against Sri Lanka when India bowled 50 overs twice in Colombo.
AFF: The only possible downside is that pitches and overhead conditions can change overnight. But those can change during a day of normal play anyway.
SB: Yes, the conditions were different even today. So you can't control everything. They have done the best they could have. I think India will be relieved if the match goes to tomorrow, because in a shortened game, there are far more variables.
VS: So - assuming you both think India were in the better position when play stopped - do you think they will start tomorrow in front as well, if that's what happens? Does the significant time off not help New Zealand, who might have been under more pressure defending today?
SB: We don't know the conditions tomorrow. But if the match starts tomorrow, New Zealand will resume batting and India have two Bumrah overs left. DLS takes in to account only the number of wickets left, not the quality of resources available to the teams. So any DLS scenario would have to be to New Zealand's advantage. For example, NZ got 150 in nearly 40 overs, but India would have to score 237 in 46 had there been time available today.
VS: But Sambit, are you saying this India team, not so long after the IPL, would not think of 148 in 20 overs as just as much a middling score as 240 in 50 overs?
SB: The pressure of a World Cup semi-final is different. Two wickets go down in a chase and you are under pressure if the run rate climbs above eight or nine.
AFF: On the surface, a batting line-up containing Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik should not be fazed by a chase of 148 in 20 overs. But, on the other hand, this team is captained by Kohli, and we all know his win record in T20s recently. (#sorrynotsorry RCB fans).
SB: I don't think they would be fazed, and they would still be favourites. All I am saying is DLS would, in principle, close the gap a bit.
VS: Right. Finally, as we fluctuate from drizzle to inspection to drizzle, and the possibility of having to return tomorrow and do this all over again - have either of you started wishing you covered some other sport? Wimbledon not too far away...
AFF: Cricket's the only sport for me. The pain and frustration is merely another hue in its rich tapestry.
SB: I am happy to be a tennis fan. Where I can really be a fan and root shamelessly for Federer. But cricket is the only game I'd want to write about. As an aside, I was at Wimbledon yesterday, and it was really dark, no lights on and I was thinking that in cricket they would have five light checks and certainly taken the players off... I was glad that Federer stayed on and finished the match last evening.