Zeenews Sports Bureau
Kolkata: The Indian Premier League match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Deccan Chargers at the Eden Gardens here was on Tuesday abandoned without a ball being bowled after heavy rains, accompanied by thunderstorm rendering the ground unplayable.
The squall with a velocity of 50kmph, accompanied by heavy showers and lightening, hit the venue around 7.45 pm and a makeshift structure made of bamboo at the western part of the stadium collapsed resulting to injury to three spectators.
With the heavy rains lasting more than an hour, Eden Gardens resembled a pool with knee-deep water as the groundsmen, aided by four supersoppers, tried their best to remove the water-logging.
Field umpires Billy Bowden and Vineet Kulkarni, accompanied by Match Referee Javagal Srinath, inspected the ground at 10.15pm but only to call off the match as there were pools of water near the boundaries while there was some seepage on the pitch.
Both the teams were awarded one point each as the winless Deccan Chargers finally opened their account thanks to the abandonment though they remained at the bottom of the league table.
The Knight Riders, on the other hand, jumped to second spot with nine points from eight matches behind leaders Delhi Daredevils (10 points from seven matches).
The thunderstorm accompanied by lightning hit the stadium around the toss time and the groundsmen were pressed into action to cover the ground. There was no let up from rain as it got intensified while the thunderstorm gathered momentum.
The 20,000-odd spectators ran for covers, bringing back the memories of KKR's rain-affected IPL 5 opener in which they lost to Delhi Daredevils by five wickets on April 5.
"It's unfortunate that weather beat us. We had to make the toughest decision to call off the match. The ground has taken a lot rain. After inspection we found out the outfield soggy. It's not safe for players with waterlogging in places," umpire Bowden said.
Cricket Association of Bengal announced refund of money for the abandoned tie or the spectators can exchange their tickets for another IPL fixture.
"Purchased ticket holders can get refund in cash at the Mohammedan Sporting ground after May 7. The tickets can also be exchanged for any of the three upcoming fixtures of April 28 (versus Royal Challengers Bangalore), May 12 (vs Mumbai Indians) and May 14 (Chennai Super Kings) subject to availability," an announcement said.
A Met official said, "Thunderstorm with wind speeds of 40-50kmph hit the city. Rain or thundershower could occur in some areas towards in next 24 hours."
Kolkata Knight Riders captain, Gautam Gambhir will be disappointed having lost the opportunity to gain full points at a time when the competition has reached a stage where there are no clear favourites.
The heavy rains and thunderstorm caused damage to Eden Gardens as three spectators were injured after a makeshift Venue Operations Centre, made up of bamboo, collapsed onto the gallery.
Incidentally, the makeshift arrangement in the J-Block of the stadium in the western part, was erected ahead of the 2011 World Cup and was used to monitor the security arrangements by the police official.
CAB joint-secretary Biswarup Dey said three persons received minor injuries but were discharged after medical examination.
"Stadium medical services confirmed that three sustained minor injuries. They were rushed to the Calcutta Medical Research Institute. All the three have been discharged after examination," Dey said in a statement.
"Some small temporary structure was blown away by the storm and fell onto the chairs on the gallery. Stadium staff, emergency services responded quickly to lift the structure," he added.
Deccan next play Pune Warriors on Thursday while Kolkata will lock horns with Royal Challengers Bangalore on Friday.
Highlights of the day
10:31 pm Bad news! The officials have finally called off the match meaning that the points will be divided between the two teams. Deccan Chargers have at last opened their account.
10:28 pm Covers have finally been taken off the pitch but still a lot of water in the outfield.
9:33 pm As of now the ground looks swamped in water as one can see ankle deep water. Super Sopper are having a hard time there. Unlikely that a match will get underway. Update on the match to be followed soon.
8:57 pm Rain has stopped now. However, it is not looking good though considering the puddles of water formed on the ground.
Meanwhile, Mbangwa tweets: "Part of a stand has fallen and there might be some injuries. Not sure yet but doesn't look good."
8:30 pm There is little indication of the start of the proceedings as the thunderstorm has gained steam and had also blown away the covers.
7:45 pm Covers have been brought in due to the increased intensity of drizzle.
7:36 pm: The toss has been delayed due to light drizzle in Kolkata.
With PTI inputs