The second day of the Ranji Trophy match between Mumbai and Railways had visiting team players, led by their skipper Suryakumar Yadav, doing the duty of groundsmen as the cricketers tried to clear the waterlogged areas of the Karnail Singh Stadium.
With their giant ‘Supersopper’ not working, it became an arduous job for the four groundsmen present at the venue, which has again brought the institutional ground under the scanner, to clear the waterlogged portions in the outfield.
Having already lost majority of first day’s play (only 8.2 overs), Mumbai players desperate to get some play after their shock loss to Jammu and Kashmir, decided that they needed to pitch in. Led by Suryakumar and senior-most player Abhishek Nayar, at least seven Mumbai players walked bare feet into the puddles with a sponge in one hand and a bucket in the other.
Without looking anywhere, the players started to use the sponge and soak the water. Surya, a KKR regular and India U-23 captain, then got another innovative idea. He got a knife and cut the big sponge into two as Aditya Tare and pacer Kshemal Waingankar also lend their helping hand in the part. Cutting multiple sponges meant more people could work. They worked for around 35 minutes.
However as some mediapersons started clicking pictures, Railways curator Sanjeev Agarwal walked upto Mumbai coach Praveen Amre and requested that his players take no further part in this activity. He then arranged for additional ground staff and the four became eight.
“No one told us to work but everyone wants the game to start. My boys were only helping those groundsmen as they were less in number. Look the ground does not have slope so the drainage is not up to the mark. The supersopper was also not working as the motor that releases the soaked water is not working. I don’t when match will start. I am not blaming anyone but we just wanted to help,” a worried Amre said.
RSPB chief Rekha Yadav who inspected the groundwork said, “No one could factor the rain and also for the last two years the Supersopper was not required as there were no matches. We are trying our best and hopefully things will fall in place.”
The groundsmen also got a tray of burning coal which helps to dry up the surface at grounds where they can’t avail helicopters.
Incidentally, Railways alongwith Services are two members that don’t get BCCI annual grants like state associations since they are institutional units. Railways gets Rs. 1 lakh per match from BCCI to organise a first-class match.