Even as Himachal Pradesh missed an opportunity earlier this year to host the Indian Premier League matches at the Dharamsala stadium, Monday was a big day for the state's cricket lovers with Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) chief Anurag Thakur being elected secretary of the Board of Cricket Control of India (BCCI).
Thakur's rise in the cricketing world has been slow but steady. He made it to the coveted post of BCCI secretary while still young. So far no one from the state has been elected or appointed to a key position in the organisation.
Thakur, who has been a Ranjhi player, had dreamt big to popularize cricket not only in the state but also carve a niche for its players in world cricket. He took over the reins of the HPCA in July 2000 when he was only 25. Since then he has worked zealously to take cricket to new heights.
Until then players from Himachal were treated with scant regard. Apart from lack of infrastructure in the state the plight of players was also pathetic and as such the association needed a paradigm shift in approach.
Thakur planned that that HPCA should have its own stadium with world class facilities. The stadium, constructed in Dharamsala at a cost of about Rs 60 crore and equipped with state-of-art facilities is ranked amongst the top stadiums of the country. It has a seating capacity of about 25000 spectators shall boast of the state of art, separate indoor and outdoor practice areas, spacious dressing rooms with requisite facilities, latest irrigation facilities, well equipped gymnasium, separate press gallery, TV & radio commentators' boxes, club house, recreational centre and a post-match conference hall.
In addition to the Dharamshala cricket stadium, the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association has also constructed two more cricket stadiums z at Nadaun and Bilaspur at an estimated cost of Rs 5 crore.
However, fortunes for cricket in Himachal began changing in 2005 when the first international side that visited and played in Dharamsala was Pakistan. The Pakistani national side, lead by the legendary Inzamam Ul Haq, played a three day game against Board President XI (BCCI) from 3rd to 5th of March 2005. Next year Dharamsala stadium played host to Mohammad Nissar Trophy was started by BCCI and Pakistan Cricket Board from 2006.
The Dharamshala stadium was one of venues for Inaugural Corporate Cup, started by BCCI in 2009.
However, the big day for the stadium came in 2009 when it played host to the Indian Cricket League matches. Since then it has seen two one-day international matches in 2013 and 2014.