statesman news service
Cuttack, 25 October
For all practical purposes, the fifth ODI between India and Australia scheduled for tomorrow at Barabati Stadium here is likely to be called off in the morning due to heavy rains over the past four days. Inspections by the match referee and umpires tomorrow morning are a mere formality that needs to be followed before an announcement to this effect is made. The cancellation was a foregone conclusion for many, including the weatherman, as the entire state is reeling under floods caused by incessant rains over the last four days.
A team of officials informally inspected the outfield and the pitch today even as it was raining. The outfield, in particular, is soggy and cannot be dried up despite the best efforts of the Odisha Cricket Association, said reliable sources, while dropping adequate hints that the match will be called off.
The 30-yard circle has been covered, the pitch protected with several layers of covers and nobody knows whether the covers have prevented the torrential rains over the last four days caused by a depression in the Bay of Bengal from seeping onto the pitch .
Ideas of engaging helicopters to try and dry the outfield were given up today as officials of the OCA had virtually reconciled themselves to their fate.
In fact, OCA officials were busy making preparations for returning money to those who had purchased tickets.
“We tried every possible measure – engaging scores of people to drain out the water, machines, pumps and digging up small intake wells near the outfield,” said a disappointed OCA secretary Mr Ashirvad Behera. He pointed out that the match referee and umpires will reach the ground at 8.30 for an inspection. The gates will be open to public at 11.30 am instead of 8.30 am, he added.
Today, the Indian cricket team reached Barabati Stadium from Bhubaneswar to have a look at the field and to take part in a practice session, if possible. But they were confided to the indoor halls where they played football for a while before returning to the comforts of their hotel at Bhubaneswar.
Ravindra Jadeja spoke to reporters for a brief while and hoped against hope that the game will take place tomorrow. He observed that Barabati happens to be one of his lucky venues. "I will not try to do anything special, just play the way I normally do," he said.
The wash-out will make a series win for Dhoni and his men difficult as Australia are leading the seven-match series 2-1 and with both Ranchi and Cuttack matches rained out, it leaves just two more fixtures for Team India to try and win both.