In a dramatic turnaround, the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Goa seems all ready and decked up to host the third and final One-Day International between India and Australia, on Sunday.
There was a heavy downpour on Friday evening for nearly four hours and again a brief spell on Saturday morning and it seemed that the series was set for another washout after the first match in Kochi was abandoned due to rain.
But curator Narayan Raju, who has the experience of managing the pitch and outfield at the M Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore, swung into action immediately when the rain stopped. In a short span of just four hours, he got the ground ready for the two teams to have their net sessions, with both teams starting their practice at around 1400 IST.
There are still a few wet patches on the outfield and the groundstaff are working hard, using sponge and other techniques, to address the issue and get the outfield ready for play.
Curator Raju confirmed that if there is no further rain till Sunday morning, the third match will begin at the scheduled start time (0900 IST).
"As you can see the ground is in really good condition now. There are not many wet patches and we are already working on a few that were there so that will be taken care of. If it doesn't rain anymore then the match will definitely start. But if it rains later tonight, then it will make things difficult and we will only manage to play a 25-over game, but even that will be a great difficulty," he told Rediff.com.
The curator pointed out that his staff started their work early on Saturday morning and their first big task was to get the water off the covers, which covered nearly 90 percent of the ground.
"We had to work a lot since early morning to get the ground in playable condition. With the heavy rain, water was logged on every part of the ground so it became extremely difficult. It was not until 12 that we managed to clear the water and we had to do it manually, so that took a lot of time," he said.
The Jawaharlal Nehru stadium is mainly a football stadium using for I-League and Goa Football League matches. So it should not come as a surprise that the facilities - like drainage, to get the ground dry incase of rains - are absent, while the present equipments like the super sopper and the covers are also quite old.
Raju revealed that when he first arrived at the stadium, it was in tatters with the outfield devoid of any grass. But the end result is a superb lush green outfield.
"When I arrived nearly 10 days back, the ground condition was very bad. I got a few groundsmen from Bangalore and we have been working hard for the last few days and that is how we were able to come up with such a lush green outfield. The ground staff here has done a terrific job and I hope that we get a match because everyone has put in so much of effort to get this game started."
He also admitted that the lack of preparation time meant that the pitch will be slow. "The pitch is slow because there is not much grass on it."