The third Border-Gavaskar Trophy Test between India and Australia scheduled from March 1-5 could be shifted out of Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh as the ground might not be yet fit to host international matches after a recent renovation.
As per ESPNCricinfo, a final call over the matter is expected within the next few days, based on the outcome of an inspection to be done by boards' team of experts. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has already shortlisted some back-up venues like Visakhapatnam, Rajkot, Pune and Indore, where the match could be moved if Dharamshala is ruled out.
The last time Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) Stadium, Dharamshala hosted a cricket match was twin T20Is between India and Sri Lanka last February. Since then, no cricket has been played on the ground since HPCA decided to relay the outfield and install a new drainage system.
It is understood that the outfield is still not ready and is interspersed with bald patches where the grass cover has not taken hold yet.
It is also learned that BCCI carried out an inspection on February 3, but another inspection is scheduled for this weekend following which a final call will be taken.
The inspection team will determine if the outfield is safe enough and can tolerate the wear and tear that comes with hosting a Test match. The outfield is sand-based, which experts say needs a dense grass cover.
The HPCA Stadium is nestled in Dhauladhar mountain range in the Middle Himalayas, is a highly scenic venue in the sport. It last hosted first-class cricket just before the COVID-19 pandemic descended in early 2020.
It has hosted just one Test in the 2016-17 edition of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, which India won in four days to win the series 2-1.
While ticket sales have started for the second Test in the current series to be played in Delhi from February 17. The tickets have not been released for the final two Test matches. The fourth Test is scheduled in Ahmedabad from March 9 to 13.
The first Test is currently going on in Nagpur. India is currently 321/7 at the end of day 2, with Ravindra Jadeja (66*) and Axar Patel (52*) at the crease. A fifer from Jadeja (5/47) had helped India bundle out the Aussies for 177 in the first innings. India has a first-inning lead of 144 runs.
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