Net practice cancelled as rain plays spoilsport

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Kochi, Oct 1 (UNI) The rain God cast his first spell on the second Future Cup series ODI between India and Australia at the Nehru stadium here tomorrow, forcing cancellation of the net practice of both the teams with sharp showers, which rendered the practice wickets unfit.

And even as the ground staff, led by curators Ramachandran and Parthasarathy were battling to get the ground fit for play with the outfield still wet, sharp showers ruled out any practice besides driving the fear of the match itself being abandoned.

As worried organising committee members of Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) were still hoping for the best, former Ranji player P Balachandran, who is incharge of players amenities, said there would be a good crowd for the game if there was no further rain. ''The response is very good because of India's triumph in the Twenty20 World Cup'', he reasoned.

He said so far the sale of tickets had accrued Rs one crore. ''We are still hoping that there would be no rain further and we can have a full house''.

''We can at least have the match with the number of overs reduced say to atleast 20 which is the minimum required as per rules'', he said.

Australian team vice captain Adam Gilchrist, who led the side in the first ODI at Bangalore in place of captain Ricky Ponting, came to the ground and inspected the pitch and the outfield. The umpires Steve Bucknor and Suresh Shastri also had a look at the playing conditions and the wicket.

The bright sun, which was shining in the midst of still threatening clouds, was keeping the hopes of the match as scheduled. But a few hours of heavy rain, which is being feared, would as well dash all hopes and cry pack up to the two teams.

''It's really frustrating, we are keeping our fingers crossed hoping for a full game tomorrow. The groundstaff is working hard'', Gilchrist and team India manager Lalchand Rajput later observed at seperate press conferences at the Taj Malabar even as their players were frolicking in the pool, the Aussies playing water polo as part of the fitness regimen.

''We are nevertheless preparing mentally and keeping up our physical fitness for the match'', they also observed.

Indian captain M S Dhoni skipped the press conference.

UNI

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