The HPCA stadium in Dharamsala © AFP
The HPCA stadium in Dharamsala will also host a few games © AFP

Shimla: Oct 29, 2014

After hosting the India-West Indies One-Day International (ODI) earlier this month, the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) is gearing up to hold 15 Ranji Trophy matches at three venues.

“Fifteen Ranji Trophy matches will be played at our three venues, including Dharamsala, from Nov 6 to Nov 14,” HPCA press secretary Mohit Sood told IANS. The other two venues are the Luhnu Stadium in Bilaspur and the Amtar Ground in Nadaun. Sood said this is the highest number of Ranji matches allocated by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to the HPCA in a season, and added that five matches would be played at each venue.

For Ranji matches, international players like Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Ashish Nehra and Harbhajan Singh would be seen in action. National selector Vikram Rathour will visit the venues to monitor the performance of the players.

“It’s a great achievement for a small association like HPCA to host 15 Ranji matches. We will try to hold more domestic fixtures at these venues which will definitely help honing local talent,” HPCA president Anurag Thakur told IANS.

The HPCA is expecting a huge rush to witness the Ranji matches. “We have extended an invitation to the local schools and educational institutions to send the students to witness the matches,” said Vishal Jagota, secretary of Bilaspur Cricket Association. The association has developed the Luhnu ground, which is ringed by backwaters of the Bhakra Dam.

“We hosted the first Ranji match here in 1998. From 2000 to 2011 there was no match. In 2012 again Ranji matches were played here. This time five matches will be played,” Jagota added. The Luhnu stadium comprises a gymnasium and five bowling machines. The boundary distance is approximately 77 metres on all sides of the ground.

The Atal Bihari Vajpayee Stadium, which was formerly known as the Amtar ground, was set up in 2004. It hosted Ranji, Vijay Hazare, Vinoo Mankad, Cooch Behar Under-19 and the Polly Umrigar Under-15 tournaments. The HPCA’s showpiece stadium in Dharamsala also has world-class indoor practice facilities, a room for video analysis, a lounge, restaurant, bar and banquet hall.