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When Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni lost to soggy outfields and satellite problems

India Today logo India Today 31-08-2016

Factor this. Australia are whitewashed 3-0 by Sri Lanka in Colombo and lose their number one ranking in Test cricket.

Over 15,000 kilometers away, in Port of Spain, India wake up to the news that they have shot up to the top spot in the ICC's Test rankings but they would need to win their last Test against the West Indies which was scheduled to start next day.

If India lost or drew, Pakistan, who had drawn a magical series against England, would shoot up to the top for the very first time in history.

Rain, only rain, could have stopped India. After a resounding win (actually their biggest outside Asia), Virat Kohli's men were thwarted by long spells of shower and Roston Chase in Jamaica as the hosts held on for a draw against all odds. West Indies weren't as lucky at Gros Islet, where India's pacers were far more disciplined and pulled off another comprehensive victory.

But as luck would have it, rain cut short the first day of India's final Test in the Caribbean. India sent down only 22 overs but Ishant Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin had by then removed the dangerous Leon Johnson and Darren Bravo. But that would be the end of that. Rain forced the players inside and though it opened up only for an hour again early on Day 2, no play was possible.

Reason? Soggy ground conditions. There was no rain for the last three days but no further than those 22 overs could be bowled. The ground was not covered sufficiently and despite bright sunshine, the field refused to dry up. Why were there no supersoppers? Nobody had an answer.

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It really was a sham at the end of the day. And what more, it cost India the number one rank in Test cricket. They needed to win 3-0 to keep Pakistan away but the lack of basic facilities robbed Kohli of a chance to retain the top spot and return home with 13 Test matches to play.

India will of course get a chance to get back up again. A series victory over New Zealand would see them regain their slot at the top but an entire Test match was lost to poor planning and ridiculously bad ground arrangements. It was a shocker in more ways than one.

Those in the know say facilities at most West Indies grounds are actually superb. Then what happened for those four days, where India were desperately waiting to get back on and play? The ICC came out to give Port of Spain a poor rating but that was hardly a surprise.

Simultaneously, in Durban, South Africa's opening Test against New Zealand was lost to similar circumstances. There is a need for the game's world governing body to take stock of what really is up at various cricket centers around the world.

Neither Port of Spain nor Durban is new to Test cricket. They are among the world's most iconic grounds and to see two important matches being laid to waste was a pity.

Now, that wasn't the end of India's misfortunes.

Together with West Indies, India travelled to pleasant Miami, where the two were scheduled to lock horns in two T20 Internationals in Florida - this was the first time India were playing international cricket in the United States of America. 

The first of those two games was a cracker. West Indies, riding on Evin Lewis' 49-ball 100 piled up a staggering 245 and sensationally, India came within one run of a victory, thanks to Lokesh Rahul's 51-ball 110 not out.

In the second match played on Sunday, India's spinners exhibited a lesson in slow bowling and restricted West Indies to a modest 143 on the same surface. But a heavy shower after two overs of India's chase meant the game had to be abandoned.

But it wasn't rain that robbed India of their 16th T20 International win this year in 21 matches. The game started a full 40 minutes behind schedule because the broadcasters had satellite problems. It was a technical delay which rendered thousands of fans, who had flown in from all corners, helpless. They had to come watch cricket along with their American friends, partners and colleagues but what they got instead was a spectacle.

It was either dumb bad luck or something more sinister that did not allow India to press for victories in two different formats and two different countries. Whatever the reasons, both Kohli and MS Dhoni were deprived. India was deprived.

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