The farcical scenes in England for the World Test Championship final between India and New Zealand sunk to new lows on Monday when the entire fourth day's play was washed out without a ball being bowled.
Rain washed out a whole day's play for the second time in the Test match, with the showpiece event now all-but destined for an anti-climatic draw.
Only 141.1 overs have been bowled in the match so far as the inclement weather in Southampton continued to ruin the inaugural edition of Test cricket's pinnacle event.
New Zealand, who will resume on 2-101 if the rain ever stops, will be particularly disappointed having taken the upper hand after their all-seam attack bowled India out for a below-par 217.
Captain Kane Williamson, batting on 12, and Ross Taylor, who is yet to score, would have expected to erase the 116-run deficit and push for a handy first-innings lead.
Rain had also washed out the entire opening day on Friday and interrupted play over the weekend, with bad light also forcing an early stumps on day three.
A reserve day is allocated to make up for lost time, however there is little chance a result will be reached even with that option.
The one-off Test match, worth AU$2.14 million to the winners and $1.07m to the runners-up, represents the culmination of a two-year program of matches to crown a champion team in men's Test cricket.
India and New Zealand topped the qualifying table, with Australia narrowly missing out on the final in third spot.
The trophy and prize-money will be shared in the result of a draw.
Cricket fans around the world have been left seething over the ICC's decision to play the match in England, given its unreliable weather at this time of year.
Thousands of fans have been flooding social media with comments deriding the fact that the showpiece event has been ruined.
This is a horrible advertisement for test cricket #WTCFinal
— Ravin Batra (@BatraRavin) June 21, 2021
Absolute disgrace! ICC is making the mockery of cricket that too in such a big event like WTC by selecting the venue despite of knowing the weather absolutely disgrace to all the players and millions of fans! Teams have reached after battling for 2yrs
— Suprith (@suprith9) June 21, 2021
Thank you for a wonderful(ruined)event in terms of #WTCFinal. An event of #WTC21 and a venue named Southampton will be remember inside the mind of every Cricket fans forever...(with an utter disgrace). Rain and #INDvNZ 😒https://t.co/37YssjcDUt
— Rajesh~DEV.💻 (@iamrajeshjena) June 21, 2021
World Test Championship was supposed to gain the momentum back for Test Matches.
But @ICC has made it a disgrace by its poor planning.
2 years to Qualify for Final and then just 2 days of game in Final..@BCCI @BLACKCAPS @CricketAus @TheRealPCB @OfficialCSA @ECB_cricket @KP24
— ROHAN SRIVASTAVA (@rohanheartiest) June 21, 2021
#WorldTestChampionship is literally played between the rain breaks. @ICC has refused to learn from the WC disaster and continue with same mistakes. If there is anyone responsible for Test cricket debacle, ICC should stand first.... #PatheticICC
— Nagesh Kulkarni (@NashTwits) June 21, 2021
— Commander_Z (@NickHeath) June 21, 2021
It took two years of gruelling effort, hard earned points, mental toughness, undying hopes to reach here. Especially for players who don't get to play limited overs cricket. All for what? A rain curtained game? C'mon. Absolute shambles this. #WTCFinal #INDvNZ
— Sunil Nadipalli (@SunilNadipalli) June 21, 2021
Virat Kohli questions wisdom of one-off Test final
India captain Virat Kohli had already questioned the decision by the ICC to play the final as a one-off Test match.
"If you're talking about Test cricket and deciding who is the best team in the world on one game over a period of five days, that is not the reality of the truth," he said on Thursday.
“It is not going to reflect anything for people who really understand the game and who know exactly what has gone on over the last four or five years and how the teams have fared.
“If you win this game, cricket does not stop for us. If you lose this game, cricket does not stop for us. Our processes and mindset is what matters most to us.
“For me, this is another Test match that has to be played.”
Kohli did concede the new structure represented a step forward for Test cricket at a time when many fear for its future.
“For me it has been a very positive step in the right direction. You know that every series you are playing and competing for something," he added.
“There is no room for complacency or just playing out an easy draw. If you can go for the points you go for the points. It is a step forward for Test cricket.”
Kyle Jamieson had starred for New Zealand on day three, taking 5-31 as the Kiwis skittled India.
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