World Cup: Concerns over fungus-infected Dharamsala outfield

NEW DELHI: The Indian cricket board’s (BCCI) preparation for hosting the

ODI World Cup

next month has hit another hurdle. With just about three weeks to go for the tournament to get under way, there are concerns over the condition of the outfield at the

HPCA Stadium



TOI has learnt that an inspection team from International Cricket Council (ICC), headed by pitch consultant Andy Atkinson, has not given a satisfactory review about the Dharamsala outfield.
It has been learnt that a team from BCCI will do another recce in the next few days to get a clearer picture of the state of the outfield.
Sources said that the outfield has been infested by fungus and Atkinson raised a red flag immediately. Atkinson was in India and finished inspecting all venues by the first week of September.

“Atkinson’s review was quite concerning. The outfield has been majorly affected by Grade IV fungal infestation. He has raised the issue with the BCCI operations team. The local authorities are looking into the issue,” a BCCI source told TOI on Thursday.
However, BCCI and

Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association

(HPCA) remain optimistic about the ground recovering in time for the first match scheduled there for October 7, which will be played between Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

India play New Zealand in Dharamsala on October 22.
“There’s an assurance given that the problem will be resolved by the time the World Cup comes around. The BCCI team will be doing a routine check by September 20 or this weekend. BCCI secretary Jay Shah may travel to Dharamsala to take stock of the situation,” the source said.
This is the second time this year that concerns have been raised over the outfield in Dharamsala.
The HPCA failed to prepare the ground for a Test match between India and Australia in March. The match had to be moved to Indore after the re-laid outfield remained bald till a fortnight before the Test.
The venue hosted a couple of IPL matches two months later and the stadium wore a lush green look.
Himachal Pradesh has witnessed heavy rains this year which has damaged a lot of the infrastructure in the state. But that is unlikely to be the primary reason for the fungal infestation in the stadium’s outfield.
Sources claimed that roads to Dharamsala are in good health post the fury of the monsoon.
“This part of Himachal didn’t witness carnage due to the torrential rains. The infrastructure is intact. There won’t be any problems for travelling spectators,” the source said.

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