The third and final T20I between India and South Africa was abandoned as the Eden Gardens ground was rendered unplayable after a cloudburst in the afternoon that led to accumulation of water in the outfield, here on Thursday.
South Africa wrapped up the series 2-0 as it had got the better of India convincingly in the previous two outings at Dharamshala and Cuttack.
The scourge of rain came to haunt the Eden Gardens once again with a spell of showers in the evening, literally throwing cold water on the prospect of play.
The localised downpour in the afternoon, lasting a little over half an hour, was so intense that the groundsmen could not get the venue ready for the scheduled 7 p.m. start. Umpires made three inspections between 7.30 and 9.30 p.m. before deciding to abandon the match.
The staging association — Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) — was caught unawares as there was no forecast for heavy rains.
The monsoon having retreated officially, the local organisation went by the usual practice of covering only the pitch and the surrounding areas while leaving the outfield open.
The apprehensions of a washout resurfaced as the umpires — Vineet Kulkarni and Anil Chaudhary — and match referee Chirs Broad weren’t convinced about the fitness of the ground till the end.
By this time the CAB had exhausted all the traditional drying methods and modern machines — three super soppers — at its disposal.
The abandonment seemed to scoff at the delay in implementing a recent BCCI advisory which asked the CAB to increase the sand content of the soil and also upgrade the drainage system of the stadium. This was the first international engagement in recent times that was done in by unseasonal rain.
The BCCI directive was warranted also by the common knowledge among experts about the nature of the Eden Gardens soil — silt clay — which prevents the water from drying quickly.
This was vindicated once again as all the efforts made in the presence of CAB curator Prabir Mukherjee and BCC’s East Zone curator Ashish Bhowmick came unstruck.
Far from ideal start
Former India captain Saurav Ganguly, who is the president designate of CAB after the demise of Jagmohan Dalmiya, found his initiation in the new post rather uninspiring.
Ganguly was there since the afternoon downpour and made the first inspection himself going around barefoot. He made a few more appearances later, interacting with players and officials around the ground, as the umpires went through the inspections.
Ganguly was also seen talking with the South African captain Faf du Plesis and the two apparently discussed the ground condition.
With the World T20 final scheduled to be held here on April 3 next year, the feasibility of Eden Gardens as the venue comes under scrutiny as there would be even more frequent showers during that time of the year.
“I knew there was no chance of a match as there was no sun to dry it out though it rained less than an hour,” said India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
“It’s sad we could not play this match and we now have to look forward to the ODI series and hope to make a turnaround there,” he added.
The first match of the ODI series starts on Sunday at Kanpur.