It was exactly 17 years ago that the India-Australia ODI at the Barabati Stadium was abandoned owing to rain. The same fate awaits the teams when they meet in the fifth game of the seven-match series on Saturday.
The fifth ODI had generated a buzz among the fans, but persistent rain for the past few days had left the outfield flooded. To make matters worse, there was a steady drizzle throughout Friday.
The Indian team, which drove down from Bhubaneswar, played football at the nearby indoor stadium.
The Australian coach, Steve Rixon, and a few members of the support staff, went to the ground to assess the damage but had to beat a hasty retreat as the underfoot conditions were too soft.
It will be left to the on-field umpires, S. Ravi (India) and Nigel Llong (England), to make an official announcement (abandonment) after an inspection on Saturday.
A press release from the Odisha Cricket Association said those who have bought tickets would get refunds in case of a wash-out.
With only a remote chance of play in the fifth ODI, Ravindra Jadeja admitted that the host had towin the remaining two games to win the series.
“If this match does not happen, we have to win the next two matches. Australia is ranked second in the world and has come to India with the motivation to do well. In the last 12 to18 months, we have won in England, West Indies and Zimbabwe. With so much cricket going on, we are bound to slip up. We have chased well twice — in the Twenty20 game and the 360 at Jaipur. It is not as if we are playing badly; it is just that in one or two matches, the results have not gone our way,” he said.
Jadeja said the two-ball rule was not affecting R. Ashwin and him. “If the pitch offers help, it does not matter if it is a new or an old ball. If you get something from the wicket, the newness of the ball would not matter,” he said.
Shane Watson was categorical in saying that the Aussies wanted to win the series. “To be able to win a series in India in any format of the game is a huge challenge and a great achievement. We have to continue playing good cricket. We’ve been batting well in the series and everyone is looking forward to a perfect game in the next outing,” he said.
“If the match is rained out on Saturday, it will make the game in Nagpur extremely important. We will try and close out the series there,” he added.