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December 4, 1996 – When sunlight delayed an ODI in Pakistan

The ODI, which was scheduled to be a day game hosted by the Gujranwala's Jinnah Stadium, got delayed due to the rising sun.

Jinnah Stadium, Gujranwala
Jinnah Stadium, Gujranwala. (Photo Source: Twitter)

There are ‘n’ number of reasons that could delay or halt a cricket match such as rain, fog, thundering, bad light, technical problems of the venue and also by the invasion of dogs, pigs and even honeybees. The ongoing India-Sri Lanka Test match in Delhi got affected by air pollution which caused breaks during the 2nd day with the Sri Lankan players falling ill. However, one could not imagine even sunlight will cause delay to the play which happened in a Pakistan-New Zealand ODI game played on December 4, 1996.

The ODI, which was scheduled to be a day game hosted by the Gujranwala’s Jinnah Stadium, got delayed due to the rising sun in the morning resulting in the game getting reduced to 46 overs-a-side. The sun was rising at one end and the light came into the batsmen’s eyes. The officials were left with no option other than delaying the game till the sun went off from the batsmen’s eyes.

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Delays caused due to the sun rising or setting is one of the rarest occurrences in cricket which is usually witnessed in England. The Derbyshire’s county ground had such problems with the sun but in 2009/10 winter season, the club re-laid the playing square in north-south axis from the east-west axis to bring down the problems with setting sun. In a NatWest T20 Blast game in Canterbury in 2016, the setting sun stopped the play for a couple of minutes as it passed through the narrow gap between two stands into the batsmen’s eyes.

Excessive sunlight
Excessive sunlight stopped the play in NatWest T20 blast game. (Photo Source: Twitter)

A close win for Pakistan:

Taking about the game between Pakistan and New Zealand, the home side elected to bat first but were reduced to 71/5. However, Saleem Malik and Captain Wasim Akram rescued their side with a 91-run stand for the 6th wicket in quick space. Akram struck 52 off 47 balls with three fours and three sixes while Saleem remained unbeaten on 73 off 78 balls to take Pakistan to 228/8 in the restricted 46 overs.

The New Zealand’s top order put their side in a comfortable position as they needed another 52 runs for the win with seven wickets in hand at one stage. However, Saqlain Mushtaq’s 5-wicket haul broke the backbone of Kiwis’ batting line-up as they were bowled out for 217 in the final over losing their last seven wickets for only 40 runs.

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