Of rain gods and a bouncy pitch

Amidst rain threat, HPCA curator promises sporting track for the fourth ODI

Of rain gods and a bouncy pitch

From the heat and humidity of the plains, the Micromax Cup series will enter a crucial phase in the cold, sky-kissing peaks of Dhauladhar ranges of  Dharamsala.

 But the officials of Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) here are busy beseeching the rain gods -- for a dry day on Friday!

One of the wettest places in the state, the metrological department has predicted showers on Friday, the day of the fourth one-day international between India and the West Indies. 

It thus prompted the HPCA president Anurag Thakur, along with other officials, to fix a visit on Wednesday evening to the Indru-Nag temple, which is dedicated to the Nag, the Lord of Snakes, and the Lord of Rains. The locals here have a great faith in its power and the HPCA officials believe their prayers to the deity will stave away all possible impediments.

The love of cricket, indeed, pervades in this small town. Even as the HPCA cricket stadium gets ready for the ODI, the fans dot the brick wall on the far west of the stadium to watch a local cricket match. In the absence of regular international matches, the Indian Premier League clashes at the picturesque venue has kept the locals riveted to the  sport while also opening for them new commercial ventures.

This is only the second time the HPCA cricket stadium would be holding an international match. Their maiden foray was in January, 2013 when England beat India by seven wickets.

With the cyclone in Visakhapatnam resulting in the cancellation of the third ODI, the clash here is tantalisingly set with the five-match series levelled at 1-1. The focus on the fourth-ODI will be intense as the winner will have the cushion of lead going into the decider in Kolkata.

Unlike the two-paced, low surface of Feroz Shah Kotla where the teams played last, the curator Sunil Chauhan promised the pitch to have uniform bounce and behaviour.

Though the attempt has been to make the pitch batsmen friendly, Chauhan, admitted, the cold conditions will be there to assist the medium pacers. 

This may not ring as good news for the Indians as West Indies’ fast bowlers have outshone them in the series. Jerome Taylor and Ravi Rampaul generated good pace and bowled in the right areas in Kotla and will surely enjoy the conditions here.

 “West Indies have very good fast bowlers but our Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammad Shami are also capable of exploiting the conditions. If the batsmen dig in their heels, then it is possible to chase even 300 runs on this pitch. The outfield is lightening quick this time,” Chauhan told Deccan Herald.

“Dew, however, won’t be too much of a factor here. In the last few days, the dew is there only after 9 pm and by then 80 percent of the match is over.”Meanwhile, both the teams will be reaching here from Delhi on Thursday afternoon.

The organisers, confirmed, spiritual leader Dalai Lama would be present on the match day to meet the two teams. “Dalai Lamaji will come here at 2’clock and bless the players as well as the crowd,” said HPCA administrator, Sanjay Sharma.

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