When sun stopped play at McLean Park

Bizarre break
Umpires Shaun Haig and Shaun George, right, look at the sun angle after it halted play during the first ODI between New Zealand and India at McLean Park in Napier. AFP
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Napier : Sun stops play after dinner. Sounds bizarre? But this is what happened in the first India-New Zealand One-Day International (ODI) at the McLean Park here on Wednesday.

Rain interruption in international cricket bringing the Duckworth-Lewis method into consideration is nothing new. But here it was the sun that troubled the batsmen by coming right in the line of their view, forcing play to stop for about half an hour in the match.

Indian captain Virat Kohli, whose side's eight-wicket demolition of New Zealand was somewhat overshadowed by the bizarre turn of events, said he has never experienced a sun-induced stoppage in his life.

"Never in my life," he said when asked about the halt due to which the target was revised by two runs and the match shortened by an over.

"It was funny. In 2014, I got out once with the sun in my eyes and this rule wasn't there then," Kohli said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

The decision to halt proceedings was taken after the dinner break of the day-nighter, keeping the players' safety in mind, on-field umpire Shaun George said.

"The setting sun is in the eyes of the players and we need to think of their safety as well as umpires. There was an awareness of it by the players (they didn't appeal)," said the umpire.

Stoppages due to sun have been witnessed in the past here during the domestic competitions, and reportedly, also at few English grounds, but none of them were international matches.

"We had talked about it in the pre-series chat. It's something different," said New Zealand star batsman Ross Taylor.

Normally, the cricket pitches are positioned in the North-South direction to avoid this scenario, but at McLean Park, the pitch is East-West facing.

"We are trying to find out ways to deal with this problem," said Napier's Mayor Bill Dalton while talking to official broadcaster Star Sports.

"We were very conscious that this would happen and had made a plan for it. We are absolutely committed to make this the biggest multi-use sports ground in New Zealand."

Chasing 158, India were cruising at 44 for one in 10 overs when play was stopped. Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan were batting on 2 and 29 respectively.

The interruption, however, only managed to delay the inevitable.

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