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T20 World Cup: When weather is a big spoiler

After the USA-Ireland game, the India-Canada game on June.15 also fell victim to bad weather.

The toss between India and Canada had been delayed due to a wet outfield on June.15. / X/@T20WorldCup

Inconsequential to the ongoing Men’s T20 World Cup, the abandonment of the India-Canada game came as a big disappointment to cricket buffs of Florida as they missed an opportunity to see their stars in action. India, one of the most consistent teams in this marquee event, has been a star attraction ever since it arrived here to compete in the 20-nation first-ever Cricket World Cup on American soil.

The choice of the venue for four of the 55-match competition – Central Broward Regional Park Stadium Turf – was not made prudently. It was perhaps not ready for the big match event. On June.14, it saw Pakistan being knocked out of the tournament as a crucial game between the host USA and Ireland was called off under somewhat similar circumstances.

It may have given Ireland its first point that may not have satiated its appetite for more points from the game as well as its first possible win of the tournament. Distribution of points between the USA and Ireland may have benefited the home team as it created history by becoming the first debutant nation to qualify for the Super 8 of a Cricket World Cup.

Unbeaten India had already qualified for the Super 8 before it arrived in Florida for its last Group A game. The game against Canada may have provided it some good practice before the start of the Super 8 games. But it was not to be. Its game against Canada was called off without a ball being bowled. Canada earned its third point from four games after its shock win over Ireland in an earlier game. Canada, mainly comprising of players of South Asian and West Indian origin, had lost its opener to the US besides going down fighting to Pakistan. It was already out of contention before its last game against the Group leaders, India.

Incidentally, the June.15 clash was also the third straight match in this tournament at Lauderhill that has been abandoned after Sri Lanka-Nepal and Ireland-USA clashes faced the same fate. Normally, the organizers of such major events are aware of the weather conditions at a particular time of the year, yet no cognizance was taken of the history of weather of Lauderhill which is prone to thunderstorms and heavy rains in June and July. Three games have already been sacrificed due to the weather. The fourth and the last is scheduled for June.16 as Lauderhill will also complete its schedule.

Weather-induced cancellations forced some of the former stars-turned-commentators to assail the organizers for the choice of venues. Former India cricketers Sunil Gavaskar and Sanjay Manjrekar spared no words to assail the organizing committee. Their unhappiness stemmed not only from thunderstorms and rains lashing the region but also from the apathy of the organizers for not covering the pitch and the outfield fully well. Besides them, other commentators, too, joined the chorus and strongly advocated that a provision be made in ICC tournament regulations about venues to be fully covered in case of inclement weather.

After the June.14 bitter experience, when the India and Canada teams arrived at the venue on June.15, the outfield was still wet, with some soggy spots in and around the 30-yard circle. Covers were still firmly on the square under gloomy skies at the venue, which witnessed some early morning rain and had scattered thunderstorms predicted for the entire day, leading to a delay in the scheduled coin toss.

Wet patches were a clear indication that the playfield was not properly sealed against possible seepage from overnight rain.

After the first on-field inspection by umpires Richard Kettleborough and Sharfuddoula indicated that the playfield was not dry enough for the game, another inspection was scheduled for an hour later as the organizers, in a desperate bid to get the moisture cleared,  pressed into service super soppers and massive hairdryers. The efforts failed to yield the desired results.

During the second inspection, the umpires saw the ground again and spoke to the head of ground staff and match referee Andy Pycroft, following which teams were seen shaking hands, which signaled the abandonment of the match.

The result also means that India, the 2007 champions, sign off unbeaten from Group A with seven points from four games and will now turn their focus towards their first Super 8 game against Afghanistan at the Kensington Oval in Barbados on June.20.

The abandonment has also led to Canada replacing 2009 champions Pakistan at the third spot in the Group A points table. Pakistan, who are already out of the competition, will have to win their last match against Ireland at Lauderhill on June.15 to finish third in the group.

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