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In defence of Dharamshala

By Deepti Patwardhan
March 06, 2005 14:24 IST
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For three days, the HPCA stadium in Dharamshala held the attention of two nations for its picturesque beauty. Perched atop the hills of the Himalayan range, at a height of 2,444 metres, lay the world's highest cricket ground.

With snow-capped mountains in the background and heavy clouds floating above, the setting was idyllic, even more static because of lack of any cricket action on the field.

The glistening gray setting may have warmed the soul of a romantic but it left the Pakistan camp frustrated as only 102 overs could be bowled in the three day-day match against the BCCI President's eleven. It was the visitors' only warm-up game before the high-voltage Test series and the weather foiled their plans.

The BCCI though maintains that the venue was a good choice for the Pakiatanis' opening tour game.

"I don't think the altitude is a problem and most of the games are completed here [Dharamshala]. The ground doesn't have a bad record in domestic matches," explained Board of Control for Cricket in India secretary S K Nair.

Former India all-rounder, Yashpal Sharma, who has also stood as an umpire in Dharamshala in some matches, defended the selection of the venue, saying the bad weather caught everybody by surprise.

"These were unusual weather conditions. It had snowed on the hills [behind the ground] after 12 years, which is why the light was poor. I have also stood as an umpire in some of the games there and light or rain hasn't affected any of the games," Sharma said.

The facilities at the ground are reported to be world-class and Sharma feels the visiting Australian and English teams will find the stadium to their liking.

"I am sure once the English and the Australian teams play here they will want it on their schedule," he added.

Cooler conditions offer swing to pace bowlers, and with the first Test slated for Mohali, Chandigarh, it would've been the ideal preparation for Pakistan had the weather held up.

Asked about the status of the pitch at Mohali, Nair said he is yet to receive a word from the curator.

"We don't know about it. We had given instructions to the curator and the chairman of the pitch committee, Venkat Sundaram, will inspect it. We will wait and see how it turns out to be."

The curator, Daljit Singh, had said that the freak weather in northern India last week is likely to affect the Mohali pitch adversely.


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Deepti Patwardhan

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