Howzat for a revamp: Dharamshala stadium ready for new innings with England Test
Dharamshala stadium has undergone significant improvements after having been criticised for its poor outfield conditions during the ICC Cricket World Cup last year
A lush green outfield is the first thing that will catch visitors’ eye as they enter the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) stadium, which has undergone significant improvements after having been criticised for its poor outfield conditions during the ICC Cricket World Cup last year.
The venue now is primed to host an upcoming test match between India and England in March.
HPCA officials said the issues highlighted during the World Cup regarding the outfield have been effectively addressed, and the ground is fully prepared to host the test match. To enhance the outfield’s quality, winter grass (ryegrass) has been grown, particularly suitable for colder climates.
The criticism stemmed from patchy conditions observed during the World Cup, which officials attributed to prolonged seasonal rainfall and insufficient time for maintenance, leading to the emergence of fungus in certain areas. England’s Jos Butler had also criticised Dharamshala’s outfield. However, proactive measures have been taken to rectify the issues, ensuring an optimal playing surface for the forthcoming test match.
While the India vs England test series is currently underway, the fifth and final match of the series will be played at HPCA stadium in Dharamshala on March 7 to 11. It will be the first international match to be played at Dharamshala since the five World Cup matches last year.
Lush green outfield
HPCA director Sanjay Sharma while attributing the issue to the prolonged rainy season said, “The rains persisted until the end of September, leading to the growth of algae in some patches on the ground. That was addressed immediately and scarification was carried out on the ground as well.”
“Apart from that, there were no major concerns. Furthermore, we have installed a new automated drainage system, and we have arrangements in place to quickly dry the outfield in the event of sudden rain. We are optimistic that such issues will not recur in the future. The outfield is now lush green,” he added.
Another official said the duration between the receding of monsoon rains and the World Cup was very short due to which there remained the limitation of time for the necessary treatment.
“But it was decreased and as the matches passed by the grass cover increased. But it was declared safe and matches took place. Scarification was carried out and new grass was plated (by overseeding). Now the outfield is as good as any international cricket field,” the official added.
Recently, Ranji trophy matches were hosted at Dharamshala cricket ground. The officials said no activity will be carried out after February 12 till the Test match and the ground will be under maintenance during the period.
The upcoming Test match will only be the second to be played on the ground. The venue had in 2016 played host to Australia.