When weather or pitch conditions force the match, its increasingly common to see the players playing a pickup game of football on the field. That indeed was how the Mumbai team spent most of the first day’s play — on Sunday — in their Ranji trophy game against Railways which was curtailed by bad light. On the second day, in which no play was possible, the team didn’t pick up a football but rather a sponge and bucket as they attempted to dry out a waterlogged outfield.
The skies over Karnail Stadium had cleared. Yet, even two hours after the scheduled start of play, there was still no action — of any sporting kind —on the field as a significant stretch of the field, from around the midwicket region to where fine leg stands, remained soaked in puddles. The Railways ground’s Super-Sopper had done its job at the start of the day but the pump to release the water absorbed by the sponge had stopped working after drying out three fourths of the ground. Ultimately, Railways curator Sanjeev Agarwal and four groundstaff members began to dry the ground on their own but the understrength group’s best efforts were not enough.
It seemed a grim outcome for the Mumbai team. Having already lost their first game of the season to Jammu & Kashmir, the 40-time champions needed a strong performance against Railways to get their campaign back on track.
Mumbai skipper Suryakumar Yadav and his team decided to take a hands-on approach to solve the problem. Some ten members of the team began soaking up the water and rinsing it into buckets. “We all want the game to start. If we work today we can perhaps get a game on Tuesday,” said Mumbai coach Praveen Amre.