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Last Updated: Monday, 18 October, 2004, 21:40 GMT 22:40 UK
Rain shines on rickshaw drivers
Phil Long
By Phil Long
Cricket fan in Madras

Indian fans were very optimistic of victory most of the time
Indian fans were very optimistic of victory most of the time

A world record, two superb centuries, a 13-wicket haul.

A Test match that had it all was, in the end, settled by a story tucked away on page four of Sunday's edition of The Hindu.

Tucked just above a story about the death of a cow on a main road in Madras (it was hit by a bus) was the simple headline 'Monsoon likely in a few days.'

Unfortunately for the Indian supporters who had poured into the Chepauk Stadium on the first four days those rains arrived just in time to kill off a mouth-watering final. day.

When the rain arrives during a Test match there are always winners and losers.

Who was saved and who was robbed? That question was the subject of much debate in the numerous cafes around the ground soon after the match was declared a draw.

However, right outside the stadium the winners and losers were visibly clear.

Sadly, it all ended in rain
Sadly, it all ended in rain

Throughout the match rickshaw drivers ferried Australian fans from their hotels to the ground at vastly extortionate prices.

But when it rains like it did on the fifth day in Chennai it was costing those same supporters an extra fifty rupees to splash their way to the ground: "Wet weather charge, sir!"

After making a tidy profit over the first four sticky days the losers were, ironically, the vendors selling bottles of the water that now fell freely from the sky.

They now stood with hundreds of unsold bottles, reminiscing about sales during the first four days of the Test, as the non-bottled variety slushed around their feet

And the poor food vendors, their perishable chicken biriyanis and chapattis with dhal sitting unsold on their mobile counters were forced into selling their wares at a price not seen in this part of Chennai since Sachin was in short trousers.

There is a permanent stench that lingers around the ground, caused by the evil smelling Buckingham Canal that runs directly behind the stands.

The Buckingham Canal - a staggering 98% of it is effluent
The Buckingham Canal - a staggering 98% of it is effluent

Built as long ago as 1877 in response to a famine the previous year the smell from the canal, according to locals, goes hand in hand with cricket at the Chepauk Stadium which, it turns out, was actually moved to accommodate the course of the canal.

In fact, a recent study concluded that the Buckingham Canal was now found to be 98%, yes 98%, effluent... which led Shane Warne's pre-match comments to make me chuckle as I trudged back to my guesthouse.

When asked about the world record for number of Test match wickets he was on the verge of breaking he said: "It's a team game but when you get an individual record like that it's a pretty major one so hopefully I can get it this game.

"Otherwise I'd be pretty frustrated by the end of the five days. I'll be jumping off the nearest bridge."

However confident he was of achieving the world record he obviously had not heard of the Buckingham Canal.


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