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Tue 9 Dec 2008 05:41 PM

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Rain could hit first England-India test

Groundsman in Chennai says preparation of the wicket has been hampered, further wet weather forecast.

Bad weather could disrupt the first Test between India and England, which is scheduled to start on Thursday.

Persistent rain since early on Tuesday drenched the outfield at the Chidambaram stadium in Chennai, denying India a full practice drill in the morning session.

Kevin Pietersen's England, who trained later in the afternoon as the rains stopped for a brief period, also had a curtailed net session.

Forecasts suggest heavy rain over the next three days as a cyclonic storm in the Bay of Bengal moves towards this southern city, raising fears of a truncated match.

Parthasarthy Kannan, the chief groundsman at the stadium, was quoted in local papers as saying the heavy rains last month and the latest storm had hampered the preparation of the wicket.

"We need bright sunshine to prepare a good wicket, but there has been a lot of rain," Kannan said.

England arrived here on Monday evening to resume the tour that was interrupted by attacks on Mumbai by armed militants on November 26 that left 172 dead and 300 injured.

The two-Test series was originally scheduled to be played in Ahmedabad and Mumbai, but was later shifted to Chennai and Mohali for security reasons.

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