The Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) has successfully pulled of an enterprise that most would not even undertake. The HPCA has just presided over a tournament in which as many as 1017 teams from every nook and corner of the state took part.
The tournament, played in 55 venues across the state, kicked off on May 1 and finished on June 16. Even as most people sat glued to television sets during the Indian Premier League and the T20 World Cup, cricket enthusiasts in hamlets of Himachal Pradesh turned out in hordes to try their hands at the newest format.
"The idea behind the tournament was to spread the sport to rural areas of the state. We were expecting a good response, but to have more than thousand teams compete in the tournament was overwhelming," said Sanjay Sharma, a HPCA spokesman.
The fact that any club or individual from within the state could form a team and enter the tournament - there were no restrictions on age of participants even - helped the HPCA get such a massive response. "We had teams from all 12 districts of the state. The tournament was first played out at the district level, from where the winner and the runners-up made it to the next round where we had 24 teams," said Sharma, adding that final was played under flood lights at the Dharamsala Stadium.
It's the unusually high number of teams that could put the tournament in the record books. "Once we received this overwhelming response, we checked up with officials of the Limca Book of Records (LBR) to enquire if they have higher participation registered with them. They told us this was the highest, and would consider it in their next year's edition," said Sharma.
An official from LBR confirmed this. "They have indeed applied to us, and their chances of getting into the record book is very high," she said. "But the final confirmation will come only sometime in mid July."