The majestic clock tower of the Galle Fort stood sentinel to an enchanting arena. On Monday though, precious time ticked by without any development on the field of play.
Dense clouds ruled the skies and rain swept the ground as the second day's play of the first Micromax Test was washed out without a ball being bowled here on Monday.
Giant covers adorned the ground and the mood was distinctly gloomy. When the hard-working ground-staff removed the covers in the afternoon during a brief period of respite, rain lashed out again.
A small but brave crowd that had endured the inclement weather gradually melted. At 3.30 pm came the official announcement - there would be no cricket on day two.
Sri Lanka, on a dominant 256 for two, was poised to put its foot on the accelerator. However, this was a day when the most gripping action was the giant waves lashing the rocky coast along the fort.
The cut-outs of spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan loomed large. Sadly, rain had cut into the legendary spinner's time on the field in his last Test. The showers threaten to spoil Muralitharan's farewell party.
The off-spin wizard requires eight more scalps for a historic 800 wickets in Tests. Given the possibility of more rain over the next three days, the prospect of the Sri Lankan icon achieving the feat appears dim.
In fact, much could hinge on a sporting and positive declaration from Kumar Sangakkara. If the host adds around a hundred runs in quick time before the innings is concluded, it could open up the contest. Will the weather hold?
The odds now are in favour of a draw. It is unlikely that the Sri Lankan attack will have the time to dismiss a strong Indian line-up twice over the remaining three days.
Since the pitch has been covered for a considerable period, it would take more time to break up as well; the sun needs to beat down for the wicket to develop cracks.
The surface could actually slow down although it could offer some movement and spongy bounce to the pacemen. Even if the weather clears, India requires to bat poorly to lose the Test.
Knowing Muralitharan and his indomitable spirit, he would still remain optimistic about a Sri Lankan victory in his final Test; picking up the eight wickets needed for the landmark will be a bonus. He is someone who always put team over self.
In fact, Muralitharan's role extends way beyond cricket. His Foundation, Good Hope, has constructed 2000 houses for Tsunami victims at Seenigama, about 30 km from Galle. Each house costs around 2000 British pounds. Muralitharan has been an inspirational figure for this island nation.
A day without cricket would have given the Indian thick-tank time to reflect on an extremely disappointing performance on day one. Even if this depleted attack lacks penetration, the bowlers can at least be more accurate, denying the batsmen easy runs and momentum. How a bunch of international bowlers can spray the ball as they did on the first day here is beyond comprehension.
And given the Indians' body language on the field, it was hardly surprising that the fielding was below par.
The team-management needs to have a frank talk with the bowlers and the erring fielders. The No. 1 Test side in the world has to be tough with its cricketers. Otherwise, it does not deserve to occupy the top