Tribune News Service
Dharamsala, September 15
Not a single ball was bowled in the opener of the three-match T20 series between India and Sri Lanka here, yet the venue came close to witnessing a handful of firsts in international cricket. Known for its fickle weather and a surreal stadium, Dharamsala, for the first time, saw an international match being abandoned due to rain.
There’s an interesting aside to it: In the past, the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) officials have religiously wooed the local deity, Indru Naag, for blessings. This time, it’s learnt that no such effort was made to appease Indru Naag. Wags say that’s the reason local cricket fans had to suffer a washout!
This would have been the first-ever India-SA T20I match without MS Dhoni and AB de Villiers in their respective teams, but rain thwarted it — for the time being.
Pitch invader on empty ground
With rain lashing down heavily and no play in sight, many things came close to happening but did not happen. But what people did witness was the sight of an overzealous fan running on to the pitch — with no players on the ground! He tripped on wet covers, and took down two cops with him. In the end, he did manage to flash the Tricolour he was holding, drawing a huge round of applause from the spectators.
Slush and inconvenience
People had great inconvenience reaching the stadium, with approach roads in a very bad condition. At 6.30pm spectators were seen entering the stadium in wet clothes, shoes spoiled with slush. Inside, families with kids and young children were a harassed lot as they struggled to find covered space to shield from rain. “We had come for the first time to watch an international match and it turned out to be a very bad experience. The narrow road leading to the stadium from the girls school was full of slush,” said Una resident Pritam Sharma, castigating HPCA. “It was a harrowing experience crossing that stretch with kids in tow. With great difficulty we were able to make it to the stand safe and sound.”
Inside the stadium, enterprising fans took off the sponsors’ boards in a bid to avoid the rain showers. At 7.36pm the giant screens flashed the message “Match Abandoned” but over a thousand fans stuck to their positions. Their only recreation was to watch in amazement the super-soppers going around in circles, making interesting patterns with the rain water. No sooner was the match called off, the rain too stopped and the buzz of vuvuzelas found a renewed vigour. They, however, knew there was nothing to cheer for now.
Their only compensation? A cool, festive night in rain-soaked breeze.