Outlook brightens for Dharamsala's debut

Dharamsala

Reports of the death of Dharamsala's one-day dream are greatly exaggerated. The final game of the series between India and England, taking place this Sunday, has been variously frozen off, snowed off, postponed, cancelled and relocated.

A frenzy of stories ranging from blocked roads to frozen pitches, arctic temperatures to closed airports prompted consternation among both sides. Such was the level of misinformation from this mountain hamlet with no weather station that talk had turned to emergency contingencies.

Defying expectations, the English players landed at the nearby Gagga airstrip under clear blue skies and with meteorological reports predicting sunny weather and temperatures of up to 11 degrees on Sunday.

It now appears the promises of play from Anurag Thakur, the joint secretary of the BCCI who has worked so hard to secure his region international cricket, were not just hot air.

There is no doubt the Himalayan backdrop and the unusual geographical surroundings add an air of history to proceedings, despite the match being a dead rubber after England lost in Mohali. This weekend, a sell-out crowd of 23,600 will enjoy their first taste of international cricket since the stadium won the approval of ICC inspector David Boon last January.

As in Mohali, assistance for the seamers is anticipated, from the bracing winds that provide help through the thin air. At 1,500 metres above sea level, the oxygen-starved fast bowlers will need all the help they can get.

The bowling unit may also benefit from a freshening of personnel. Chris Woakes, buoyed by his inclusion in the Test squad for New Zealand, should play, as should Stuart Meaker in place of the wayward Jade Dernbach. After not yet appearing in the series, the Surrey pace bowler will want to prove that reports of his demise too are greatly exaggerated.

Fifth ODI details

Probable England team A N Cook (c), I R Bell, K P Pietersen, E J G Morgan, J C Buttler (wk), S R Patel, J E Root, C R Woakes, J C Tredwell, S C Meaker, S T Finn.

Odds India 4/7 England 11/8

TV 3am-12pm, Sunday, Sky Sports 1

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