Mohali Test: Day One called off due to rain
Elements had the final say as the first day of the third cricket Test between India and Australia here was called off without a ball being bowled, thanks to a heavy downpour that lashed the city since early morning.
Play was officially called off at about 13.15 local time, even as a buoyant India's march to achieving their best-ever result in a Test series against Australia came to a halt, though due to matters not related to cricket.
The pitch and the square were covered, and the toss was yet to take place when PCA joint secretary G S Walia made the official announcement. India, who have never won more than two Tests in a single series against the team from Down Under, are leading the four-match rubber 2-0 after convincing victories in the last two outings in Chennai and Hyderabad.
The hosts have never been in such an enviable position against Australia. Given Australia's meek surrenders in both Chennai and Hyderabad, there is a high possibility of visitors being whitewashed by the hosts, who have so far been confidence personified under the leadership of Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
The weather Gods, however, could again come in the way of what Dhoni and his men would love to achieve, especially against an opponent who had thrashed them the last time they crossed swords, albeit in Australia.
There might be some rain tomorrow as well. Earlier, the Indian team returned to the hotel after spending some time at the stadium, even as the Australians enjoyed a morning cup of tea after the outfield was rendered wet due to incessant rain. A few from the Australian camp, including coach Mickey Arthur, were seen hovering around and having a jovial chat on the sidelines.
The super soakers were out in the field as the groundsmen got down to get the surface back in shape for the match. The few heads totting the stands at the PCA stadium, watched in helplessness, as the groundstaff carried on what seemed like a futile mopping-up operation. The rain though had subsided after a while, the thick cloud cover showed no signs of abating. True, the sun peeped out once, but disappeared before one could blink.
"Overnight rain started at 3 am and it will take at least two hours for the ground staff to dry the playing areas. However, bad news is that rain has been forecast for the afternoon as well," ICC umpire Richard Kettleborough had said ahead of the first pitch inspection.
Kettleborough was right as the met department had yesterday forecast possibility of rain with cloudy skies in the city. The early end to the day meant Delhi left-hander Shikhar Dhawan would have to wait for some more time before receiving his maiden Test cap.
Incidentally, Dhawan's ODI debut, against the same opponents, at Visakhapatnam in 2010 was also interrupted by rain. Apart from Dhawan, who is filling in for the dropped Virender Sehwag, India are likely to field the same team that played in the last match. Australian squad trimmed to 13 after the expulsion of four players, will be playing experienced wicketkeeper-batsman Brad Haddin in place of the injured Matthew Wade.
With James Pattinson being one of the four axed players, Mitchell Starc automatically makes a return to the playing XI with Peter Siddle being the second pacer. Leg-spinning all-rounder Steven Smith, too, will be batting up the order, while Xavier Doherty and Nathan Lyon are the two specialist openers. There was no place for Glenn Maxwell, who made his debut in Hyderabad.