After being beaten fair and square in the Test series, the five-match ODI series presents New Zealand a chance to put up a fight and maybe even surprise India. The Black Caps will be happy to escape from the heat of the 0-3 Test series loss in the cool climes of Dharamsala, venue of the first ODI on Sunday.
They will also have good memories of the stadium nestled in the Dhauladhar range. It was here in March that they upstaged Australia in the World T20.
In Dharamsala, winter is already setting in and the temperature is hovering between 13-22 degrees Celsius, so the challenge for both the teams will be to acclimatise fast.
Back as hosts
A local organiser was confident the weather will hold, saying ‘there are scant chances of rain’. The Himachal cricket body (HPCA), as has been its tradition, has offered prayers to the local deity Indru Nag to keep rains away for the smooth conduct of the match.
Dharamsala is back in the mix after being stripped of the India-Pakistan World T20 tie due to security concerns. The organisers are looking forward to hosting the opening game of this series.
“See, there were many external factors, including politics at work, at that time. This time around, there is no such thing and we are confident of conducting a good match without hiccups,” HPCA spokesperson Sanjay Sharma said.
This series also came under a cloud after the Supreme Court froze the allocation of funds to BCCI’s state associations until they accepted the Lodha Committee recommendations.
Sharma said, “The reputation of the country is at stake and we will not let anything hamper the conduct of the match and the series. On its part, BCCI is directly taking care of many of the expenses.”
Poor ticket sales
One factor which is worrying the organisers is the tepid demand for tickets. Even though India are playing, the Himachal cricket official conceded that ticket sales have been sluggish. But he was confident the sales would pick up with the teams arriving.
“It’s a festive season and there was also a lot of uncertainty around the series with the freezing of funds. But now with the teams arriving, we are confident the ticket sales will pick up. We are also expecting fans to arrive from other states, especially Punjab, in the next few days. So, we are hopeful that the stadium will be jam-packed on match day,” Sharma said.