T20 World Cup Final: Unpredictable Melbourne weather has everyone on the edge

Melbourne: It was Day 1 in the beautiful city of Melbourne and the weather seemed good. In the early 20s, very little humidity and the clean air only made it more pleasant. A few hours later, when I was down for a walk in the CBD area, a steady breeze started blowing and caught most of us shivering in the late hours of a weekday. Underprepared on the opening day, second day was meant to be prepared for the chill.

Jackets came out and layers were added before the trip to the Melbourne Cricket Ground, a couple of days back. Guess what? The sun was out in glory, clear skies and jacket was clearly not meant to be worn. Cautious after the experience the previous night, jacket remained on but started to get a bit uncomfortable as we explored the gigantic stadium and the sporting facilities around it.

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“You not hot, mate?” Former Australia cricketer David Hussey enquired seeing the puffy layer on me. “I don’t really understand the weather here, so just taking the extra precaution,” came my response. “Welcome to Melbourne (laughs), and be prepared for any kind of weather,” he asserted. It remained nice and sunny, the layers were off for most of the day and remained so even later in the evening. Nice and warm, and the steady breeze gave a nice touch.

Two days and most of us thought we have aced the weather game and felt better equipped for the remainder. Melbourne, however, was ready to spring another surprise as it turned very overcast the next morning and the chilly winds returned with steady spells of drizzle. The jackets were still out but umbrellas were ignored. Lesson No. 2 learnt.

“Melbourne is the only city which can give you like four seasons in a day,” informed our tour operator for the day. Very true. I had experienced the summer warmth, the monsoon greys, light drizzle and winter chill. All in a day! The locals call this a tricky weather period as the summers here feel really summer, winters are winters but in between they get a bit of everything and have jackets in the bag and an umbrella on standby.

A day before the T20 World Cup final everyone had their eyes locked on weather forecast apps as they predicted rain on Saturday. The day again started on an overcast and chilly note but the afternoon turned very pleasant.

Bright and sunny with warm winds and a perfect setting for a barbeque afternoon with some chilled beers from the tap. “Ah, it is not going to rain for the final, looks like a full game,” one of the cab driver said but had a pinch of caution in his tone. The caution was about to make sense in little less than two hours as the rain returned, in glory, and the city, on a very busy Saturday, had the umbrellas out.

Drainage at MCG

During the extensive tour of the MCG on the opening day, the officials from the venue knew rain was in store but seemed confident on having a full match on Sunday. Darryl, who has been giving MCG tours for years now, was convinced with the drainage in play and felt the sand base will only allow a quicker resumption even if it starts pouring during the title clash.

“You see most of the base we have here is sand. So that allows much quicker absorption and the quality super soppers will only speed up the process. Not to forget the 7.5 km drainage channel we have here and it is absolutely world class. Even if rain comes, we should have the players back on the field soon,” said Darryl, but again with a hint of caution.

Positive start

Sunday has started on a positive note here in Melbourne with clear blue skies and plenty of sun but soon it started playing hide and seek with clouds. The forecast predicts rain later in the afternoon, and the evening hours too. The forecast was pretty accurate for the previous day and it remains to be seen how the day unfolds. All roads will lead to the MCG later in the evening and it promises to be an exciting contest between two quality sides.

Rain, however, has made the toss all the more important as both sides would want to have the calculations in their favour, and under control when they walk out at the iconic stadium. ICC has announced change in playing conditions in view of the threat and the additional playing time has been increased from two to four hours for Monday (reserve day).

The weather guess work has already begun in the early hours of Sunday but much like the Pakistan cricket team’s run in this T20 World Cup, it promises to be very unpredictable.

The writer is in Australia on invite of Visit Victoria

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