Ahmedabad, the host city of the IPL 2023 final between the Gujarat Titans and Chennai Super Kings, woke up to a bright and sunny morning on Monday. However, weather reports and local newspapers are predicting intermittent rain showers from 4 PM to 10 PM in the evening.
The previous day, the city experienced a severe thunderstorm that lasted for four hours, leaving the outfield “bone dry” according to a member of the broadcasting crew who was setting up for a re-run. Since Sunday night at 10:45 PM, there has been no further rainfall.
Officials from the Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) discussed the possibility of a five-over match on Sunday, but ultimately decided that a fresh final would be the best-case scenario for both teams. The match officials expressed concerns about the readiness of the ground for a shortened match, considering the significant amount of water that had seeped in.
The playing conditions for the final remain the same as they were on Sunday night. The cutoff time for a full match to take place is 9:35 PM, while officials can wait until 12:06 AM to start a five-over-a-side match. Alternatively, a Super Over shootout is also an option. If no play is possible at all, last year’s IPL playing conditions dictate that the Gujarat Titans would be declared champions based on their higher position in the league stage.
The Narendra Modi Stadium boasts modern drainage systems and machinery designed to handle such situations. During a brief downpour on Friday evening, which lasted only 45 minutes, the Qualifier-2 match between the Gujarat Titans and Mumbai Indians was able to commence within 40 minutes of the rain stopping. The ground staff swiftly deployed two super soppers even before the rain had completely ceased, ensuring efficient mopping up of the water.
The ground staff has undergone rigorous training to maximize ground coverage in the shortest possible time. This was evident on Sunday night when there was a 20-minute window where it seemed like the game could start. Just a short while before, parts of the outfield had been flooded with puddles, with water seeping underneath the covers near the square.
Despite the uncertainty caused by the rain, the fans’ excitement for a full game remains high, with another packed stadium expected. However, hotel prices and airfares out of Ahmedabad have skyrocketed. All direct flights from Ahmedabad to Chennai for Tuesday have been sold out, with connecting flights priced at a premium of INR 28,000, compared to the average fare of INR 5,000. Several Chennai Super Kings players, especially the overseas contingent, had their flights rescheduled from Monday’s early hours to Tuesday.
Hundreds of fans have gathered outside the stadium in hopes of obtaining tickets from others who are unable to attend due to their scheduled Monday departures. This has led to chaotic scenes, prompting heavy police presence along the water-logged streets surrounding the ground. Similar conditions were witnessed on Sunday night, as thousands of fans were forced to wade through ankle-deep waters for at least 3 kilometers to find transportation, as the Ahmedabad Metro was already operating at full capacity.
The local authorities have been instructed to ensure that fans do not encounter similar difficulties on Monday night. Multiple feeder buses and smoother checkpoints have been set up for entry. Fans who were unable to collect physical tickets in exchange for their online bookings on match days have been allowed to do so at various locations in the city, aiming to minimize queues and congestion outside the venue. The authorities are committed to clearing up the venue in time for the rescheduled match on Monday.