For the second successive day, there was no play in the Ranji Trophy semifinals between Mumbai and Services at the Palam ground here.
If Friday’s action was a non-starter due to the previous night’s rain and hailstorm, there was no play on Saturday after bright sunshine all day could not dry up the pitch.
It may be recalled that the covers placed on the pitch were blown away by gusty winds on Thursday night. Rain water caused much damage to the pitch before the covers were put back in place early on Friday. The outfield was fine but such was the extent of damage to the pitch that despite the ground-staff working tirelessly on a sunny day, play could not be started. The play was officially called off at 3.50 p.m.
With Mumbai at 380 for six in its first innings and just one day of the scheduled play remaining, there seems a strong possibility of the match being extended to the sixth day to determine a winner based on the first innings lead.
Quite wisely, Sachin Tendulkar, Wasim Jaffer and Ajit Agarkar did not come to the venue.
Other Mumbai players reached the ground around noon.
Later, Mumbai’s coach Sulakshan Kulkarni admired the efforts of the ground-staff but refused to comment on the playing facilities provided at the Palam ground.
It is quite clear that Mumbai camp is desperate to get some on-field action to avoid a situation where the ‘winner’ is decided by the spin of coin. “If we get about 180 overs (in six sessions of play), Mumbai should be able to take the first innings lead,” said Kulkarni, a former wicketkeeper of Mumbai.
Should there be no further rain, the match should see some action on Sunday.