Sun shines at Kochi, but question mark remains
After three days of rain, the weather gods finally smiled on Kochi with bright sunshine greeting the historic port city, on Saturday.
Despite, the Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) confident of the match getting underway on Sunday, there seems to be a lot of question marks on whether the ground would be ready in time because of the amount of water that has already been soaked by the outfield.
Image: Groundsmen at work ahead of the Kochi one-dayer
Both teams cancelled their practice sessions
With sun out in its full glory on Saturday morning, the groundstaff once again swung back to action with nearly 400 workers using the sponge to clear off the extra water from the ground, with many others taking the water off the covers before taking them off.
However, if there is any more rain later in the day or at night, then it would be very difficult to get the first ODI of the three-match series started, which is schedule to begin at 0900 IST on Sunday.
Both teams cancelled their practice sessions in the morning, but were hoping to get some feel of the conditions later on in the day, weather permitting.
Image: Groundsmen at work in Kochi ahead of the first one-dayer
The curator did a small puja
Interestingly, the pitch curator K Parthasarathy did a small puja in the morning, asking the rain gods to stay away for another two days and this in a country where people normally pray for the rains to begin.
The 30-yard circle, which was covered by the covers, seems to have suffered minimal damage. But the areas outside the 30-yard circle, especially near the boundary lines, have taken a lot of pounding and it would require more than a day of sunshine to dry those wet patches.
However, KCA secretary TC Mathews sounded confident that the match would be held as per schedule.
"We are used to this and I am confident that the match would be held. It was worse in 2007 when India played Australia, but we started the match on time and had a full match too. We are not worried about the weather," he told Rediff.com.
Image: A look at the pitch on the eve of the first ODI at Kochi
'The groundsmen have been working tirelessly '
He revealed how the groundstaff had been working tirelessly since the last two days to get the ground ready at all costs.
"We have bought three super soppers. The sponges are being used and we are mopping it completely and more than 500 people are working. We are using half HP motors and we are actually pumping the water out of the ground," the official said.
Mathews also revealed that the newly laid draining facility was not working to add to the concern.
"There seems to be a bit concern because the surface was re-laid recently but the water is not percolating. We have the pipes below the surface but the water is not draining and that is I think that is because it is not upto international match standards."
Image: The outfield remains wet
2500 policemen have been deployed
The last international match played at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium was the India-Australia ODI in October 2007 that the visitors went on to win by 87 runs.
So the desperation of the KCA officials to get the outfield ready to host the match is not surprising.
"We are not a Test centre and IPL will only happen next year. So we get only one-dayers and this match is now happening in this city after a long gap of three years. We are very eager to host the ODI match now," Mathews said.
The officials are not taking chances are far as the security is concerned with nearly 2500 policemen deployed to guard the stadium along with the bomb squad, NCC cadets and the private security of the KCA.
Image: Security has been tightened ahead of the Kochi ODI