New Delhi: The third Test between India and Australia scheduled to be played from March 1-5 has been shifted from Dharamsala to Indore, owing to poor outfield conditions, BCCI said on Monday.

That the Test will be shifted was confirmed on Sunday itself after BCCI curator Taposh Chatterjee’s report deemed the re-laid outfield as unfit for an international match.

“The third Test of the Mastercard Australia tour of India for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, originally scheduled to take place at the HPCA Stadium, Dharamsala from 1st to 5th March has now been moved to Holkar Stadium, Indore,” BCCI secretary Jay Shah said in a statement.

“Owing to harsh winter conditions in the region, the outfield lacks sufficient grass density and will need some time to develop fully,” Shah further stated.

The inclement weather added to the woes of Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) as the local ground staff didn’t get enough time to grow good layer of grass on the patches of bald outfield.

However, it must be mentioned that apart from the latest inspection, the BCCI pitches and grounds committee team had also inspected the ground once before and that time it was not even close to being ready.

Questions are being raised at BCCI’s scheduling team and why wasn’t a proper homework being done and weather conditions factored in before allotting the match to Dharamsala when no cricket has been played at the venue for the past one season.

In fact, the last two international games — one T20I and other ODI against South Africa were washed out after one spell of rain and the ground couldn’t be prepared for a curtailed game.

Himachal Pradesh Ranji team played their home games at Nadaun as the pitch and outfield were being relayed.

The norm of having an international match at any venue needs to follow specific parameters and one is to have at least one competitive game a few weeks before an ODI, T20I or Test.

Like Holkar Stadium in Indore, where the the third Test will be held, it has already conducted a number of first class and age group games this season with the last one being Ranji Trophy semi-final between Mandhya Pradesh and Bengal that ended on February 12.

Logistical nightmare for fans

The shift at the last moment is going to hurt one of the biggest stakeholders of Indian cricket whose priority has been last and certainly, the least. It is the supporters, most of whom are from outstation and were planning a cricket vacation.

Dharamsala is the most picturesque cricket destination in India as the stadium is situated on the lap of Dhauladhar range, making for a magnificent viewing with Pagoda like stadium rooftop at both ends of the gallery.

Whenever India play in Dharamsala, people drive down from Delhi, Chandigarh and Shimla to watch the match.

In fact, a lot of Australian fans were also supposed to fly down for “Cricket Vacation” where they would be enjoying the Test match and also take a tour of McLeod Ganj.

The hotels were all booked and the shift will be a huge hit to the hotel business, which sees a boom during any international cricket event.

PTI

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