I had a little bit of time to spare on Monday afternoon, and so I settled onto my couch and put the cricket on the television.
The fifth-day washout of the Trent Bridge Test has the Indian fans bemoaning their bad luck with rain.
It was not a foregone conclusion that India would have won the Test had rain stayed away, but the odds were more in favour of an Indian win than an English one.
My mind went back to the various occasions that rain gods made India suffer and the few instances it helped India get away from a loss.
India vs Australia, Melbourne 1985
Over the years India have had a fair amount of success in Tests against Australia in Melbourne. That 1985 Test was no different. The Indian side needed just 126 runs in the fourth innings and were 2-59 when rain stopped play. Many continue to blame India for batting slowly until then to get only 59 runs in 25 overs. But still, this was a Test match that was robbed of its finish by rain. India could have registered its first Test series win in Australia long before the 2018 series win.
India vs Australia, Chennai 2004
In all of 2004 it rained just one day in Chennai, and that day happened to be the fifth day of the second Test in the Border-Gavaskar trophy. India were chasing 229 in the fourth innings and were 19 for no losses. Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh were at the crease at the close of play on Day 4. The morning of Day 5 started with rain, and the game never restarted. The result was not a foregone conclusion, but again the Indian supporters felt their team had a great chance to win that match. An Indian win in Chennai would have prevented the Aussies from conquering their ‘final frontier’.
India vs West Indies, Jamaica 2002
India was in no position to win the Test on the last day, but there was a forecast for heavy rains on the fifth day, and the Indian supporters hoped to get away with a draw. Much to their disappointment, the rain came just a few minutes after Zaheer Khan played a rather injudicious shot to be the last one to get out. After many years India could have drawn a Test series in West Indies, but it was not to be that time.
India vs England, Lord’s 2007
India was well behind England all through this Test match and faced a tough last day to survive. The victory target of 380 was more or less academic. MS Dhoni and Shanthakumaran Nair Sreesanth were the last two batsmen at the crease around teatime. India faced a sure defeat, and the weather was the only joker to save them from that situation.
India’s luck with these things was not great, but much to the surprise of the supporters, not only did the rain god intervene, but umpire Steve Bucknor also chose to help India that day. Bucknor refused a sure shot LBW appeal against Sreesanth, and the rain god decided that if Bucknor could help India, they better chose India for a change. India went on to win the series 1-0; a loss in Lord’s would have denied them the series win.
India vs New Zealand, World Cup semi-final 2019
India’s loss to New Zealand in the World Cup semi-final continues to rankle its supporters. India had a 240-odd score to chase at Old Trafford when rain forced India to bat their innings on the reserve day. The morning start gave the New Zealand swing bowlers the ideal conditions to remove the Indian top order. India did well to run New Zealand close, but the early loss of three wickets proved to be a death knell for the team. It is only fair to say that the Kiwis would not have found bowling conditions suitable for them in the afternoon at Old Trafford had the game gone on without the interruption.
India vs Sri Lanka, Champions Trophy 2002 final
India had two chances in the final to chase not such daunting scores of 245 and 223 to win the final either on the original day or reserve day. The India team was in great form in the run-up to this tournament and were favourites to knock off those runs on either occasion. At least this time India did not lose the tournament and could win it jointly with Sri Lanka.
There would be many other occasions when the Indian team was either saved or cursed by rain, but these are some matches that stand out in my mind due to their context. If someone else’s misery can serve as a balm for our sorrows, I would advise the Indian fans to remember the South Africans and their luck with rain. Now, tell me: are you any worse than them? Not everyone is a Boris Becker, who would get timely rain breaks in Wimbledon, to help him beat Ivan Lendl.