Heavy overnight rain and hailstorm took its toll on the third day’s play of the Ranji Trophy semifinals between Mumbai and Services at the Palam ground here on Friday. Owing to a soggy outfield, with puddles all over, the day’s play was called off at 12 noon before the rain returned.

With the weather forecast indicating more rain over the weekend, further loss of play in this five-day match appears inevitable.

As things stand, Mumbai has scored 380 for six in its first innings, with Aditya Tare (108 batting) and Ajit Agarkar (113 batting) looking good for more.

The playing conditions of knockout matches allow an extra day’s play to determine the team ahead on the first innings.

In case, the first innings lead is not decided even after the sixth day, the ‘winner’ is ascertained by the spin of a coin in the presence of the match referee and the two on-field umpires.

The gusty winds on Thursday night blew away the cover, which was secured with nails, before the downpour lashed the pitch.

Covers were put back in place only around 6.30 on Friday morning.

The extent of damage to the pitch will be known only when the covers are taken off, assuming there is no threat of immediate rain.

Considering the importance of the match,

Services will have to bear the responsibility for its lack of preparedness to face all eventualities. After all, rain in the days leading to Republic Day in the Capital is all too expected.

Unwritten restrictions

Earlier, a disappointed Mumbai team left the venue soon after 10 a.m. when it became clear that no play would be possible. Meanwhile, the Mumbai team management was not too pleased with the ‘unwritten restrictions’ at the venue. With a fair number of Air Force personnel, accompanied by their family members, mostly children, being allowed to flock the area outside the dressing room has proved most disturbing and disgusting to the visiting team.

Sachin Tendulkar, a Rajya Sabha member and conferred the honorary rank of Group Captain by the Indian Air Force in July 2010, has found it awkward to find senior IAF officers forcing their way to the dressing room with requests for signing autographs and posing for photographs.

After being confined to the dressing room all day on Thursday, Tendulkar chose to step out for a stroll around 8 a.m. on Friday before the growing number of his ‘fans’ near the dressing room forced him to retreat to the safe environs of the pavilion.

Unlike any other stadium in the country, Tendulkar cannot afford to even take a stroll outside the dressing room, forget warming up on the ground.

In fact, each day, with a large number of fans waiting just outside main entrance to the dressing room, Tendulkar and Agarkar are made to use the rear door to reach their car while most other members board the team bus.

More In: Cricket | Sport