Bengaluru and Chennai do not share too much in common despite being only 326 km apart by road. Even if they did, it’s likely that people from the two cities would prefer to avoid talking about shared commonalities. But it’s a different issue when it comes to rain. It’s almost as if the two south Indian capitals only come together when it is to discuss their mutual weather concerns.
And the moment they hear about rain, especially at this time of the year, in Chennai, Bangaloreans start looking up at the sky anxiously, some even with dread. For legend has it that when it pours in Chennai, it rains in Bangalore. Always.
At the same time, the moment it starts pelting down in their backyard, the first thing Chennaites do is start making expectant phone-calls to Bangalore with one singular query, “Has it started raining there yet?”
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To boot, everyone’s a weather expert in Bangalore. You simply have to hear them talk about the depression — which is technically an area of low atmospheric pressure which produces crazy rains — to know just how much they care about it. They’ve after all had a lot to discuss over the last 10 days or so, thanks to the monsoon fury that has taken over life in adjoining Tamil Nadu, with most of Chennai presently submerged in rainwater. And it was almost obvious that rain was going to have a major impact on the second Test between India and South Africa at some point.
And it seemed inevitable from the moment you opened the curtain shades on Sunday morning that the second day’s play was in peril, even if you didn’t quite expect there to be no action at all, which eventually was the case. If anything, it was surprising then, what with their weather expertise and all, to see close to 20,000 turn up at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. Unfortunately, all they got to see was a constant drizzle — those annoying sorts that never turns into something substantial but simply doesn’t go away either — and the ground itself covered in a sea of blue tarpaulin. And the only time they did get to cheer, and cheer they did, was when the umpires made their visits to the middle to inspect the conditions and then returned shaking their head.
The drizzle itself commenced at around 9.15 am, 15 minutes before the scheduled start of play. And it continued on for close to 45 minutes. The covers did come off to a vociferous roar from the Chinnaswamy faithful, at around 10.20. But only five minutes later, the drizzle was back. It only kept getting heavier from that point on and by 2 pm the play was officially called off. As is the case in these situations, by half-past-two, the rain had stopped. But the ground had taken enough water by then.
If the forecast was for 80 per cent chance of rain on Sunday, it only gets worse over the next two days with there being a 100 per cent chance on Monday. And though he like everyone else pretty much had to spend half the day twiddling thumbs, and according to one of the senior ground officials it was unlikely that the Test would resume any time before Tuesday. There was a sense of ‘I told you so’ accomplishment in the way he made his declaration while insisting that, “The depression is always around in November. I am surprised we even saw action yesterday.”
The day off might have come at the right time for the South Africans, though. At least, temporarily their slide seems to have been stalled. A slide that has seen them barely able to cling on to parity in the series after making a good start on the opening day in Mohali.
With India 80/0 and the pitch showing no real demons it, not to forget the ineffectiveness of the South African bowlers on Saturday, the visitors did look set for a long day out on the field going into the second day. And it could well have ensured that the series was well and truly out of their hands at this premature stage itself. In a way, the lengthy drizzle on Sunday has probably ensured that the series could still stay alive. As for the South Africans, it was a day to sit back and probably forget about all the negatives that have added up in their report-card so far, and maybe live to fight another day, weather relenting.