The picturesque but sleepy town of Dharamsala is all set to host Kings XI Punjab's last two home matches at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) stadium as IPL 6 draws to a close.
Kings XI have only pride to play for, as they have no chance of advancing to the play-offs. The team will look forward to cooling their heels in the pleasant weather of the hills and taking things easy, though they will look forward to finish on a high and go out with a bang.
"We are fully geared up to cheer our team so that they can finish in the top five," HPCA press secretary Mohit Sood told IANS. Sood said the response of the spectators for the last match, when Mumbai Indians take on Kings XI Punjab May 18, is quite enormous.
"We have sold out 95 percent tickets for the last match and the sale turnover is Rs.1.62 crore, the record so far (in Dharamsala)," Sood said.
For the first match between Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI Punjab on May 16, more than 30 percent tickets are still on counter. The first match would be played in the night, while the second one is a day-and-night affair.
Organisers believe the HPCA stadium's popularity soared with the last three IPL seasons and the first international ODI between India and England on Jan 27. The HPCA stadium, one of the newest venues in the country, is situated nearly 4,000 feet above sea level and surrounded by the majestic Dhauladhar ranges that make it one of the most beautiful grounds in the world.
The craze among the fans for the second match, besides witnessing Mumbai Indians' star players Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting in action for the first time at the HPCA venue, is chuckling peaks on the horizon of the stadium. "Still you will find some white (snow) patches in the Dhauladhars, which will be a refreshing experience for the spectators who are descending here from the sizzling plains of north India," Sood said.
Hospitality industry representatives say they are getting a good number of queries daily from the visitors about the weather. "We are advising the tourists to bring light woollens as evenings are quite chilly," local hotelier Puneet Chandel said.
The weather office in Shimla said the minimum temperature at Dharamsala would remain around 18 degrees Celsius but the days are comparatively warm at 27 degrees. The town saw a drizzle on Tuesday. Manmohan Singh, director of the local meteorological office, said the weather would remain dry in the region till May 18. The Dhauladhar ranges Saturday got fresh, mild snow.