What transpired at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium in Delhi on Sunday was embarrassing and extremely sad. It was the last cricketing day of the year for Sri Lanka and India.
Both teams and more importantly the spectators, who had turned up in large numbers and with loads of expectations, did not deserve such an inexplicable fiasco. Surely, such things cannot happen in a nation that, everyone knows, can hold world cricket to ransom on the basis of the huge money it brings into the game. Then again, as the popular saying goes, it happens only in India.
The catastrophe in waiting was predictable even before the game began. During the pre-match pitch report, Sunil Gavaskar compared the surface to a hair-weaving job — bald patches interspersed with grass coverings. No one could predict how the pitch would play and so, not surprisingly, MS Dhoni decided to bowl first and have a look. The delay due to misty conditions only turned out to be the calm before the storm.
To take nothing away from Zaheer Khan, he bowled a peach of a delivery to send back the in-from Upul Tharanga off the first ball. But what followed from thereon can be attributed neither to the batters nor the bowlers.
It was the Kotla pitch that was dictating the terms of play. It was as if the curators had given ghostly qualities to the pitch, as some balls leapt close to or over the batsmen’s shoulder after pitching and others rolled along the square, hardly having any life as it trudged into the keeper’s gloves. And when such things happen, the chances of serious injuries to batsmen become imminent.
One can even go to the extent of saying that it was surprising Kumar Sangakkara waited for so long before calling off the game – over 20 overs. Yes, such was the viciousness of Kolta on Sunday.
Tillakaratne Dilshan was hit on the elbow by one that reared up from a good length, while Sanath Jayasuriya took one on the shoulder from a delivery that had pitched in an area close by. Luckily, no one was seriously injured and before anyone did, the suave Sangakkara took the smart decision of stepping in and bringing the curtains down on the game abruptly.
While one feels extremely sad for the fans, there are no two ways about it that the Lankan captain made the right choice. If anything, the DDCA must be held responsible.
They had enough time to prepare a good international pitch. Unfortunately, what they offered was no acceptable even by gully cricket standards. This is what happens when the reins of sports are handed over to the power-greedy politicians. Everyone wants things their way and the end result is the curator doesn’t have a proper say, leading to vicious results.
Of course, this is not the first time such an incident has occurred in India. 12 years ago, an ODI in Indore had to be abandoned between the same two teams for the same reason.
The men in charge over there have since got their act right and Indore games have produced some fabulous entertainment. DDCA too must act swiftly and move over this shameful episode, more so because they are scheduled to host four matches during the 2011 World Cup.
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