Visakhapatnam, September 9: This tiny port city was expected to be the venue for the much-awaited return of one of Indian cricket’s favourite heroes -- Yuvraj Singh. But elements were not kind enough on Saturday.
Heavy rains have been lashing the city for the last few days, and only the unpredicatble weather patterns in this part of the world gave hope to the plethora of fans, who thronged the Dr YSR Reddy ACA-VDCA stadium for India’s first T20 match against New Zealand; more importantly too see Yuvraj walking to the ground with his India colleagues after seven months.
But all they got to see on the day was torrential rain, and the fleeting images of Yuvraj, who recovered from a rare form of germ cell cancer in his lungs, as weather continued to vent its fury over the venue and the city. The signs were telling from the early stages of an eagerly anticipated day.
At 5.31 pm, the ground-staff rolled out the covers at the first hint of drizzle and waited for the hovering dark clouds to move way. But what followed bore close resemblance to a dark movie. A gentle drizzle gave way to thunderstorm accompanied by sharp streaks of lightning, and by 6 pm the stadium was draped in black, brightened only by the frequent bolts from heaven.
It poured incessantly over the next one hour and on the first instance when the elements settled down a bit, three super-soppers attempted to clear the covers before moving on to clear the outfield but the rain, which had arrived due to a depression in the Bay of Bengal, got worse at that stage.
Had the match started at 8.00 pm, play would have been extended and a full twenty-over game could have been played. At nine pm, a fourteen-over game would’ve have been possible and at 10:15 pm a five-over game might have happened.
The groundsmen continued their efforts to salvage the ground and match, but weather had aleady done irreparable damage. Finally, the umpires officially called off the match at 8.15 pm.
Just when the crowd thought they were going home empty handed, Yuvraj, who was later felicitated with a momento by the Andhra Cricket Association president DV Subba Rao for his return to the Indian squad, did a full lap of honour to give them something to cheer.
Spectators in Chennai – venue of the second and final T20 -- might just be witness to what Vizag missed out on. But given that it had rained in the southern Metro on Friday and how the depression is expected to move down south, one may have to wait till the warm-up games ahead of the World T20 in Sri Lanka to see Yuvraj in action.
It indeed was a disappointing climax to what might have been a special game at a venue as picturesque as this.
World welcomes Yuvi
Before rain drenched his hopes of playing an international game after seven months, Yuvraj had tweeted: “I guess this wud be my biggest day aftr w cup final I’m really overwhelmed with the love and support of everyone who have send me wishes.”
“Few hours to go till I wear my fav jersey. To my mom my friends my fans this wud not bin pos thnks for ur lov nd courage.”
The cricketing fraternity came forward to wish Yuvraj luck. His India team-mate Zaheer Khan welcomed him back to the national side. “Its been a great, long journey together. Excited to finally have you back on the field,” said the veteran pacer.
Out-of-favour England batsman Kevin Pietersen said he was proud of Yuvraj coming back into international cricket after fighting cancer successfully. “... so proud of you buddy! Doing what you’ve done gives my best mate @JCEtrust so much belief! Enjoy the day pal..,” Pietersen wrote.