ICC gives Dharamsala ‘all-clear’ to host Pakistan-India World T20 clash

The hill station of Dharamsala has been given the green signal to host the firecracker India-Pakistan clash at the World Twenty20 next year after a team of International Cricket Council (ICC) visited the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association’s (HPCA) International stadium on Tuesday.

India and Pakistan will meet in the group stages on March 19 in remote Dharamsala in the Himalayan foothills whose stadium houses just 23,000 fans, and is located 1,162 metres (3,800 feet) above sea level.

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The 17-member team lead by the ICC’s head of events, Chris Tetley, and Tournament Director of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) MV Sridhar inspected the facilities at the HPCA stadium and were satisfied that it could host one of the most-anticipated battle in cricket.

“We have carried out inspection from all aspects and are happy with the facilities here,” PTI quoted Tetley as saying.

“Dharamshala has already hosted a number of International matches and was a fantastic venue. Given the India-Pakistan match, which will be held here on March 19, we have had detailed discussions on security arrangements with host organisation.”

BCCI official MV Sridhar said the capacity of the HPCA stadium would be increased to accommodate more fans during the World T20.

Interest in the Dalai Lama and Buddhist teachings have attracted foreigners to Dharamsala for decades, and its budget backpacker hostels and guesthouses are expected to be sold out when Pakistan and India play.

Eden Gardens, in comparison, can accommodate more than 60,000 spectators, while Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium, which is likely to have been ruled out because of security reasons for Pakistan, has a capacity of around 35,000.

India, Pakistan, New Zealand and Australia are placed in Group 2 of the second round Super 10s stage, the ICC announced.

South Africa, England, West Indies and Sri Lanka are in Group 1. Two qualifying teams will join the Super 10s stage after the first round.

The second round gets under way with hosts India taking on New Zealand on March 15 in Nagpur, in the western state of Maharashtra.

Defending champions Sri Lanka begin the defence of their title against a qualifying team on March 17 in Kolkata.

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