Karachi’s wait goes on as Pakistan-Sri Lanka ODI called off

September 28, 2019

KARACHI   -  Karachi’s first ODI in over 10 years did not even get as far as the toss. Heavy rain in the days leading up to this match was already proving a challenge, with doubts arising over whether the outfield would dry in time.

Then, on Friday, more rain was delivered by towering dark clouds, forming large puddles on the outfield, and making even umpire inspections a challenge, once the rain did eventually relent. The National Stadium was heavily waterlogged with the covers never moving through the course of a gloomy Friday afternoon, and just before 4:30 pm the officials had little choice but to abandon this game.

Unexpected rain in the city had put this game in doubt as early as 48 hours before the scheduled start, with the city lashed by heavy afternoon rains each of the past three days. With a training session cancelled on Wednesday and only a short one possible on Thursday, the square had been under covers all this while.

This afternoon, when perhaps the heaviest spell of rain all week descended upon the National Stadium, cancellation was inevitable. It is by no means a familiar phenomenon for the city, this match being the first ODI ever to be abandoned because of the weather in Karachi. The weather forced the Pakistan Cricket Board to put the second ODI back a day from Sunday to Monday. The final game of the three-match series will be played as scheduled on Wednesday.

With more rain expected on the day of the second game–Sunday, September 29–the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), in consultation with the Sri Lanka Cricket Board (SLC), has rescheduled the game to Monday, September 30. Karachi will need bright sunshine over the weekend in order to assist the drying of the outfield. Sri Lanka’s tour to Pakistan consists of three ODIs and three T20Is.

“This week’s heavy rains, including on Friday afternoon, has left the outfield soggy, with the groundstaff requiring at least two complete days to make the ground fit for cricket,” a PCB media statement said. “The PCB has also announced tickets sold for Friday, 27 September, will be valid for either 30 September or 2 October ODI, while tickets sold for Sunday, 29 September, match may also be used for either 30 September or 2 October ODI. As per the PCB ticketing policy for the series, the PCB will also allow refund of all tickets for Friday’s match.”

PCB director of international cricket Zakir Khan said, “This week’s unseasonal heavy rains have forced us to review the series schedule. I am thankful to Sri Lanka Cricket as well as our host broadcasters for agreeing to amend the match schedule to ensure there are no further abandonments due to rain in what is an important bilateral FTP series for Pakistan.”

Only a few hundred spectators braved the rain and made it to the stadium on Friday. “We came here to watch the match as Sri Lanka has come here after 10 years, we were excited,” said cricket fan Anam Salman at the National Stadium. “We walked a long way in rainy weather but after coming here we are very disappointed ... What can we do? We can just hope for the best for the rest of the two matches.”

Karachi hasn’t hosted an ODI in 10 years since Sri Lanka last played here in 2009. It is the first time since Sri Lanka’s team bus was attacked in Lahore in 2009 that a foreign team will conduct a two-week tour of Pakistan with Karachi hosting all three ODIs. Major teams have avoided Pakistan since that ambush, which killed eight people and injured several players.

Another fan appreciated Sri Lanka sending its team to Pakistan, despite 10 Sri Lanka players pulling out of the limited-overs series due to security reasons. “We must appreciate Sri Lanka Cricket for sending their team after 10 years, we hoped to enjoy some good cricket, but it’s disappointing that we didn’t have a match because of rain,” Azeem Rahat said. The ODI series will be followed by three Twenty20s at Lahore.

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