The final of the 2023 edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) between four-time winners Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and defending champions Gujarat Titans (GT) at the Narendra Modi Stadium has been moved to the reserve day, which is Monday, May 29, after persistent heavy rain forced washout of proceedings on Sunday.
It is the first time that an IPL final has moved into a reserve day.
"The #Final of the #TATAIPL 2023 has been moved to the reserve day on 29th May - 7:30 PM IST at the Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad. Physical tickets for today will be valid tomorrow. We request you to keep the tickets safe & intact," announced the IPL via its Twitter account.
Things turned for the worse at around 6:30 pm on Sunday, after dark clouds suddenly collected quickly over the stadium when both teams were preparing for the toss in 30 minutes. It began to rain incessantly which was also accompanied by thunder and lightning, forcing the fans to move quickly backwards to seek shelter and protection from the downpour.
The rain had stopped around 8:55 pm, with the super soppers swinging into action immediately to dry the ground and pitch area and ensure full overs were possible, while the players began to warm up in anticipation of the start of the match, considering the cut-off time was 9:35 pm.
Before that could materialise, the rain came back with even greater intensity. The covers were put on again and fans scrambled back to take shelter yet again as ponds of water started to take shape around the covers.
"12:06 AM is the latest time we can start and the groundsmen have sort of given us an hour to mop up the ground. So if it's still raining at 11 o'clock, we are in a lot of trouble," said on-field umpire Rod Tucker to the broadcasters.
As Tucker feared, the relentless rain stayed late into the night, forcing the match to be moved to reserve day. With the IPL playing conditions allowing the final to have the provision for a reserve day, it is expected that weather permitting (with rain forecasted for Monday too), cricket fans in the stadium and around the world will get to witness a full game on Monday.
The two finalists -- Chennai and Gujarat -- had also featured on the opening day of the tournament, as the two-month-long league comes full circle on Sunday, with fans wearing Chennai's yellow jersey thronging the stadium in large numbers.
Chennai, led by M.S. Dhoni, are the second-most successful team in IPL history, having won the title four times in 2010, 2011, 2018 and 2021, and are eyeing their fifth title. The final of IPL 2023 is also Dhoni's 250th appearance in the tournament since being a part of it from the inaugural year in 2008 and will also be Ambati Rayudu's last match as an IPL player after the right-handed batter announced on his Twitter account on Sunday.
On the other hand, Gujarat are the defending champions and seeking to win back-to-back IPL titles, becoming the third team to do so in the history of the competition. Interestingly, in nine out of 12 finals since 2011, when the playoffs system came into effect, the team that emerged victorious in Qualifier 1 has won the final too.