Incessant rain forced the opening day’s play of the third Test between India and Australia on Thursday at Mohali to be abandoned without a ball being bowled. The umpires found the surface unfit for play during their inspection an hour and a half after lunch.
It wasn’t exactly pattering down, but there was enough drizzle and bleakness to prevent play. The wind howled in and curtains of drizzle blew in across the stadium. The rain, which started in the wee hours and accompanied often by thunder, was unseasonal after weeks of blissful weather.
Though subsided at around 10 am, the air was still hazy, and the groundstaff went about their chore assiduously. The umpires — Aleem Dar and Richard Kettleborough — inspected the ground at 11.30 and decided to review the ground again at noon.
With the weather not improving, in fact the drizzle only gathered in sheets, they called the day’s play off at 1 pm. Except for a momentary spell before lunch, the Sun was mostly obscured beneath thick grey layers of clouds.
The turf was turgid, with water oozing up through the grass-blades around the covers. And there were moments when one jumped from impatiently waiting for play to start or to impatiently waiting for the umpires to call it off for the day.
There was an English ambience to the ground, green as a landlubber’s gills after a rough night on the ocean. But maybe not so with pitch. The groundsman says that it will not be quick but he might be disingenuous there. In relative terms, it could hardly be slower than Hyderabad and Chennai, and the reputation it has gathered is of a surface that lends encouragement to the pace bowlers, with a decent bounce and carry (not necessarily the same thing), which will also attract the attention of the batsmen.
Fortunately though, sunshine is predicted for the next four days, and the teams winning toss could be in dilemma as to bat first, as most teams in the subcontinent, or bowl first, hoping for some pep from the surface that has been residing under the cover.
But the surface being closely-shaved, it’s unlikely that the moisture may impact the game for long.
Meanwhile, first-choice gloveman Matthew Wade and all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, who took four wickets, in his debut Test in Hyderabad, will sit out of this Test. While Wade hasn’t fully recovered from his ankle injury, Nathan Lyon has been preferred to Maxwell.