T20 cricket finds its new home in snow-capped HP

Shimla: Amid snow-capped mountains at approximately 10,000 feet above the sea level, Twenty20 cricket has found its new home in the hilly terrains of Himachal Pradesh where T20 Mahasangram, world`s largest tournament is currently underway.

The Jaypee Cements T20 Mahasangram is in its second stage and the tournament has already got the approval from the Guiness book of world records to be registered as the world`s largest tournament, owing to its record 1373 participating teams.

Started in 2008, the Twenty20 tournament will see around 19,222 players from 12 districts, 52 sub-divisions, 70 blocks, 2500 panchayats, 14000 villages and 50 towns participating under the vigil of 500 officials. Around 2000 matches would be played in total during the tournament.

"It would provide the players an opportunity to show their talent. Each player will have a database profile where his performance will be recorded. And depending on the performances, some would be given a chance to attend camps and play for their state," BJP MP and HPCA President Anurag Thakur, the mastermind of the tournament, said.

Around 150 matches are conducted everyday at 75 venues in 12 districts of the hilly state. In comparison, last year, 14,300 players from 1,017 teams participated in the tournament and matches were held at 60 venues.

The tournament, carrying the cash prize of Rs 30 lakh has representations from the remotest parts of the state such as Pangi, Bharmaur, Holi, Tissa, Leo, Spillo, Katgram, Sangla Kalpa (Kinnaur) Shishu Udaipur and Shillai.

Chamba district, one of the remotest and most backward regions of the country, alone has send 231 teams, which is the highest in the state.

"We are spending nearly 60-70 lacs on this tournament, out of which approximately 30 lacs will go into the cash prizes to the winning teams, while the rest will go in administration and providing infrastructural facilities and cricketing gears to the participating teams," said HPCA secretary Vishal Marwaha.

The state winner will receive a cash award of Rs 3 lakh, the runners up Rs 2 lakh and the state finalist will be given Rs 51,000. Likewise, the district winner will also get Rs 51,000, runners up will get Rs 31000. Semifinalist will receive Rs 11,000 and quarterfinalists will bag cricket kits.

The opening match of the tournament was inaugurated by Anurag Thakur at the Kalpa, 10000ft above sea level. The finals will be held under the floodlights at the picturesque Dharamsala international cricket stadium.