Asia Cup 2023: Ground staff in a race against time to get Premadasa Stadium match-ready

Stern test: A view of the R. Premadasa Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.

Stern test: A view of the R. Premadasa Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

In an island nation like Sri Lanka, which faces intermittent – if not heavy – showers even during the supposed dry spell of mid-June till mid-September, ground staff at various international cricket venues are the silent heroes.

While the 100-odd groundsmen at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium worked wonders on Monday to ensure a result in India’s last preliminary round match against Nepal, their counterparts at the nerve centre for Sri Lankan cricket will be in focus over the next fortnight.

The ground-staff at the R. Premadasa Stadium have been working overtime ever since last week’s heavy downpour subsided. And their chief in command is confident that near-perfect conditions will be presented to the remaining six games of the Asia Cup, including the final, over the next fortnight.

“The weather prediction is dodgy. It rained here this morning, too, making the wicket and nearby areas a little wet,” said Godfrey Dabrera, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) chief curator, on Wednesday afternoon.

“The outfield too has soaked in a good amount of water. But we are working hard, and we are confident of preparing the ground in time for the matches.”

For most of the last fortnight, the entire outfield at the Khettarama stadium – as is the stadium referred to by locals – has been covered.

Despite flooding in the nearby areas, the ground staff have been diligent in ensuring minimal damage to the ground.

More than the outfield, the biggest concern will be whether the pitches will play fair for the six matches, including the final, to be played in nine days.

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