Thunderstorm lashed the town on Tuesday evening and straightaway raised concerns about the Twenty20 match against Australia here on Thursday.
At the Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) office, secretary Niranjan Shah monitored the situation via CCTV at the match venue in Khanderi village, some 12km from the old race course stadium.
Shah said 80 per cent of the 29,000 capacity stadium was sold out and was confident the houseful board would go up in the next two days for the second international match to be played at the new venue.
“This area comes under the cyclone belt. Rain is forecast for the next three days,” said Shah, showing no trace of worry on whether the locals would get a chance to see a full match.
The outfield had a parched look, but soon Shah saw people looking for shelter and said, “Yes. It’s drizzling there now.” He added that the ground has excellent drainage facilities.
The Rasiklal Makwana-made flat deck has been given ample protection and it would most likely turn out to be a graveyard for bowlers just as it did when Ishant Sharma was hammered for 86 runs, Bhuvneshwar Kumar for 52, R. Ashiwn for 61 and Ravindra Jadeja for 46 by Alastair Cook’s England in the inaugural ODI in January, 2013.
India’s seam bowling for the Twenty20 match and the first three internationals will be Ishant, Bhuvneshwar, R. Vinay Kumar, Mohammad Shami and the lone left-arm seamer, local boy Jaydev Unadkat.
The spinners in the side are Ashwin, leg spinner Amit Mishra, left-arm spinner Jadeja and also part-timers Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina.
Ishant has shown glimpses of his old form, but he has not really been spectacular having being given the opportunity to fill in for Umesh Yadav, who broke down after the first Test against England at Ahmedabad in the winter of 2012.
But he has managed to keep his fitness intact, has taken 30 wickets in 18 matches and has been a regular since the first ODI against Pakistan at Chennai in December, 2012.
Test for Bhuvneshwar
With a long season ahead, M.S. Dhoni will look upon him to rise to the occasion in the company of Bhuvneshwar. Thanks to his skill in manipulating the seam, the 23-year-old Bhuvneshwar has held his own across all formats of the game, but would be put to test in the seven-match ODI series against Australia and also in the short Test and ODI series against the West Indies.
Mohammad Shami began well against Pakistan and England striking an average of around 23, taking a wicket each in his first three matches, but thereafter has leaked runs in his next eight matches. Some form in the five-match series against Zimbabwe has influenced the selectors to pick him again.
Similarly Unadkat has been given a big break. His eight wickets at 17.38 in five matches against Zimbabwe clinched him a place in the squad.
The selectors have stuck with R. Vinay Kumar for his experience, especially in Twenty20s.