Dharamsala, May 12: Even as Dharamsala gets ready to host the Indian Premier League matches on May 17 and 19 when Kings XI Punjab will take on defending champions Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Daredevils, respectively, it is excited for the India-England ODI in January 2013.
Dharamsala was approved of hosting ODI by the ICC recently and President of Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) stadium, Anurag Thakur said that this is the first ground in Himachal Pradesh, a hill station in India, approved for international matches.
"Our entire focus is now on India-England one-dayer to be staged here early next year," said Thakur.
He also said that it has hosted a number of IPL matches over the past couple of years, serving as the second home for the Kings XI Punjab franchise.
This is the third season of IPL and the city has got a facelift with roads being re-laid and around 1500 police personnels deployed for the upcoming matches.
The tickets of the May 19 match is also all sold out. The organisers claimed that the arrangements are all complete and the venue is all prepared to host Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister PK Dhumal, the guest of honour in these matches.
It was the IPL experience that convinced the association that they were capable of hosting international games.
Dharamsala earlier had hosted a tour opening game between the Indian Board President's XI and Pakistan in 2005, and later a Match of visiting South Africa Team.
Since then the stadium has hosted 24 matches in the Ranji Trophy, apart from hosting two ODIs between India Under 19 vs Australia Under 19 on September 24 and 25, 2005.
With the expansion of the IPL in 2010, Dharamsala has the potential to become one of the most popular venues.
"The setting and outlook of this venue is outstanding, being located in the shadow of the Himalayan Mountains, making it one of the most unique in the cricketing world," ICC referee David Boon, who passed this stadium, said in a report.
The mountains add to the serenity of the venue. Another impressive feature is its openness and small-sized stands, which allow for winds to sweep across, giving fast bowlers assistance in the air.
The venue is the first in India to use winter rye grass scattered around the outfield, which prevents the grass from dying when temperatures fall below 10 degrees.