Chennai ODI: Will rain play spoilsport?

Chennai: There is a reason for die-hard cricket fans of Chennai to rejoice as the city’s MA Chidambaram stadium is all set to host an One-Day International match after two years.

Match Time 

After the India vs Australia game in 2017, which India won comfortably, ODI cricket returns to the historic venue as after winning the T20I series, India takes on Kieron Pollard led West Indies in the first one-day international, scheduled tomorrow here.

While Chennai is one of the prominent international venues in the country, over the last few years, hosting matches here has been an issue ever since the stadium was reconstructed before the 2011 World Cup. The ‘knowledgeable cricket fans’ of Chennai have been deprived of several high-profile matches due to the dispute pertaining to the reconstruction of the stadium as it is not in line with the guidelines laid down by Chennai Corporation and three stands (I,J,K) remain closed ever since 2012.

However, ahead of this match, TNCA has been granted an extension of the lease of the stadium for the next 21 years by the state government and this has given hope that the ongoing issue would be solved soon which would see the reopening of the stands well ahead of the upcoming IPL.

While this has come as a piece of good news, the prevailing wet weather in the city has dampened the excitement a little bit, with anxious fans hoping to at least witness some action on the matchday.

Wet weather

Over the last two days, the city has received considerable rain and while the pitch was under covers yesterday, India’s optional practice session today has been called off due to heavy showers.

While weather forecast suggests no rain on match day, whether they would be able to witness the whole match or not, remains a worry for many cricket lovers. Remember, the last ODI which was held at the venue was also a rain-curtailed match which was reduced to 21 overs and India won by 26 runs via DL method.

Tottering at 87-5 at one stage, Hardik Pandya and MS Dhoni shared a famous 118 run stand in that match to help India post 281-7 in 50 overs. The chase was reduced to 21 overs due to rain and in the end, the home team won the game.

While one can expect to witness some action in the middle tomorrow as so far it appears that the match may not be completely washed out, still witnessing a full 50-over match, that too after a long time will give the crowd their money’s worth.

Bad news

With this series, India is seeking a 10th straight bilateral ODI series win against the West Indies. The hosts though have some injury concerns with seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar ruled out of the squad after suffering a groin injury, with Shardul Thakur replacing him. This is the second change made to the initial squad after Mayank Agarwal replaced Shikhar Dhawan, who is recovering from the injury he suffered during the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy tournament.

All eyes on Pant

It will be interesting to see whether Shreyas Iyer will be given a long rope at No 4. The focus will also be on Rishabh Pant as his performances have been under-par in recent times with both the bat and the gloves. Windies too have injury concerns as Evin Lewis is recovering from an injury that he suffered during the last T20I international in Mumbai. Kieron Pollard’s men, however, will look to replicate the same performance that they gave in the recently concluded T20I series by challenging and giving a tough fight against the men in Blue.

Aaditya Anand M