Dharamsala: It is an atmosphere of festivities out here at this lovely hill town, located in the lap Himalayan foothills, as it prepares to host the first one day international cricket match between India and England.
Both Indian and England teams are already in the town and are likely to hold practice sessions at the HPCA stadium today and tomorrow before the Sunday’s match, which is the 5th ODI and the last one for the two teams in the current series.
Not just Indian supporter, but English fans have also started arriving in Dharamshala through charted flights and luxury road vehicles.
Board of Cricket Control of India members too have started gathering here in wake of the closing ceremony of the series.
Chief minister Virbhadra Singh along with Dalai Lama are to be the chief guests at the match.
The week end being a national holiday, many tourists from the adjoining states of Punjab, Haryana and Delhi are expected at Dharamshala and the small township is already feeling a shortage of accommodation.
Members of Himachal Pradesh Cricket association (HPCA), who are hosting the match, say that some spectators may face accommodation problems.
Dharamshala has 56 registered hotels and guest houses with a bed capacity of 1,100 and at McLeodganj, 8 km from Dharamsala, there are 91 hotels registered which can accommodate 2,000 people. In addition there are about a dozen government rest houses located in and around here but all are booked to capacity.
Sanjeev Gandhi, owner of a hotel in Mecleodganj said, “All rooms at our hotel were booked a year in advance for this event.”
Kanti Lal who runs a home stay guesthouse said,” we have guests from Mumbai coming to watch the match and there is no space for others.’
Other than accommodation, the administration is worried about managing traffic and providing parking for the vehicles of those who are expected to turn up for watching the match.
Problem of staying arrangement for players and match officials has been sorted out, this season.
“For the players, the Pavilion residential complex is almost ready. It has 32 huts made of imported wood and 38 concrete rooms. A world-class multi-gym is the new addition,” said Anuraag Thakur, joint secretary of BCCI and president HPCA. The Pavilion overlooks the stadium and is about 3 Kms away from the venue.
The stadium, 250 km from Shimla and Chandigarh, has a seating capacity of 22 thousand people, with additional features of a world-class indoor stadium comprising video analysis facilities for both bowlers and players. Outside the stadium there are 14 practice pitches, a club lounge, restaurant, bar and a banquet hall.