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WTC Final NZ vs India: Play abandoned on Day 1 due to rain in Southampton, to have early start on Saturday

Southampton, June 18: The opening day of the highly-anticipated ICC World Test Championship Final between India and New Zealand proved to be a damp squib as no play could happen due to incessant rain in Southampton on Friday (June 18).

The toss for the marquee clash between the top two teams of the WTC in the last two years couldn't be held as the drizzle never ceased and allowed the groundsmen to make the pitch match ready. The match will now begin on Saturday (June 19) at 10:30 AM local time i.e. 3:00 PM (IST).

"Day 1 has been called at the Hampshire Bowl. A brief period without rain after lunch but it's back now and the Match Officials have called things. 98 overs now scheduled for tomorrow with a 10-30am local start. #WTC21," tweeted New Zealand Cricket on Friday.

Umpires Michael Gough and Richard Illingworth, after multiple inspections, called off the game after an official pitch inspection scheduled for 7:30 PM (IST), due to the wet outfield and constant drizzle.

The match was scheduled to begin at 3 pm (IST) but the inclement weather ensured that the pitch at the stadium was covered. It was later announced that the toss will be held after the lunch session if it stops raining, and the groundsmen get enough time to clear the outfield. But it continued to pour and the chances of starting the game even in the second session turned bleak.

The ICC has, however, kept a reserve day to make up for time lost because of inclement weather. Rain has been forecast in Southampton for the most part of the inaugural title clash in the longest format.

"The Reserve Day has been scheduled to ensure five full days of play, and it will only be used if lost playing time cannot be recovered through the normal provisions of making up lost time each day. There will be no additional day's play if a positive result is not achieved after five full days of play and the match will be declared a draw in such a scenario," the ICC had laid out in the playing conditions for the WTC Final.

While there has been talk about Southampton being the preferred venue, it has been learnt that BCCI was taken into confidence by both the ICC and England and Wales Cricket Board before they finalised the venue which also has a five-star facility within the premises, helping create a tight bio-secure bubble.

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Story first published: Friday, June 18, 2021, 19:49 [IST]
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