Exclusive: Dharamsala in danger of missing out on hosting third India vs Australia Test

    In case Dharamshala is ruled out, then BCCI is likely to look at Mohali as an option.

    The Dharamshala Cricket Stadium — one of the highest sports grounds in the world — can be visited for its sheer beauty. (Source: Instagram @dharamshalalocal)

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    The Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) is racing against time to get the Dharamshala stadium outfield match-ready for the third Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. As things stand, there are concerns about the outfield and if the match will go ahead as scheduled on March 1 in the city with the Board of Control for Cricket in India keeping its option in place.

    The HPCA is hopeful that the ground will be ready by the time the teams travel to play their third Test match which is still more than two weeks away. The BCCI’s inspection team, including the curator, are set to visit Dharamsala on February 12 to assess the conditions, following which a decision will be taken. The recent rains in the city has also delayed the work, and in case the weather doesn’t improve, it could create further problems for the groundsmen.

    The HPCA stadium, which is one of the most picturesque venues in world cricket, has hosted only Test before and that was in 2017 involving India and Australia. Although it has hosted T20s and ODIs regularly, the HPCA had made plans to relay the entire outfield keeping the local weather conditions in mind. As a result, the relaying work started post monsoon and it is understood that a small patch of work is yet to be completed near the square.

    What is concerning the BCCI is since the work started, the venue hasn’t hosted any matches and they are not clear how the pitch would behave. Usually when the pitch and the outfield is relaid, the common practice is put it to test in a match and so far that hasn’t happened. Right through the Ranji Trophy season, Himachal played their home matches at Nadaun as the work continued at Dharamshala.

    “There is still some work need to be done near the side area of the pitch. We are hopeful that things will be ready before the game. The HPCA will take a call after the BCCI inspection. We have relaid whole surface with proper drainage and have added sprinkle to the ground. Some work is still pending and as three weeks is left we feel the work will be completed,” a source in HPCA said.

    In case Dharamshala is ruled out, then BCCI is likely to look at Mohali as an option. Even Bengaluru seems to be under consideration and either way the BCCI is looking to formalise the decision at the earliest keeping the logistical challenges in mind. “In case the Test is moved out, even the curators at the new venue need time to get the pitch ready. A final call is expected by Monday or Tuesday,” sources in the know said.

    As per the schedule, Delhi and Ahmedabad will host the second and fourth Tests respectively.

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