CHENNAI: With the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament beginning on Sunday, the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA), which plays host to Plate Division teams, faces an unusual challenge: rain threat. Rains in Chennai in January is something unheard of.
However, the city recorded the highest rainfall in a century in January in the first week itself. With forecast of rain on Sunday, Monday and Thursday, one cannot rule out the possibility of a delayed start (Plate Division matches begin on Monday), or matches getting called off next week. It is the first national level cricket meet since the coronavirus-induced lockdown last March.
The four venues chosen for the tournament are Sri Ramachandra Medical College Ground, TI Cycles, Guru Nanak College Ground and SSN College Ground. Barring the MA Chidambaram Stadium — which will not host any match this time — the other grounds in the city do not boast of the high-tech drainage system. But with the unseasonal rainfall expected to come to an end in mid-January, the TNCA is confident that they can conduct the matches smoothly.
“The venues have some kind of drainage system, but it is not as good as Chidambaram Stadium. We hope there shouldn’t be heavy rains, otherwise, there is a risk of the possibility of matches getting washed out. With BCCI deciding against playing ties on reserve days, points will be split if the game gets affected by rain,” said a TNCA office-bearer.
That apart, all of the players and support staff of eight teams — Chandigarh, Nagaland, Bihar, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim — which are playing in Chennai have tested negative for the coronavirus in the three screenings so far.
They will be undergoing a Covid test every three days once the meet begins. Officials have been extra cautious since a city hotel — where three teams are staying — turned into a Covid cluster recently. “The main challenge is following the Covid protocols. That’s the only new thing for us as a host association,” added the official.