Himachal to get third cricket stadium

Shimla: Himachal Pradesh will get its third cricket stadium by the end of next year, an official said Sunday.

“The new stadium at Bilaspur will be ready by end of 2011. It will host national matches,” Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) president Anurag Thakur told reporters.

HPCA has so far spent Rs.2.5 crore to develop its pitch and ground and it aims to spend another Rs.3 crore for developing other infrastructure.

He added that if the newly-built Dharamsala stadium is known for the majestic Dhauladhar ranges in the backdrop, the upcoming stadium would be equally majestic as it’s surrounded by waters of the Gobindsagar reservoir.

The state has another cricket stadium in Nadaun in Hamirpur district.

Thakur said that HPCA is developing 12 stadia, one in each district.

“Our aim is to develop cricket at the rural level. So we have started building 12 stadia, all together with an expenditure of around Rs.5 crore each. Of course, we are getting funds from the BCCI,” said Thakur, a Bharatiya Janata Party MP and son of chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal.

The Dharamsala stadium, built at a cost of Rs.48 crore, hosted two Indian Premier League (IPL) matches in April.

“The hosting of the IPL matches has boosted our morale. Now our aim is to offer more picture-perfect locations,” he said.

But for upgrading the Bilaspur and Nadaun stadia to IPL standards, HPCA needs to spend at least Rs.30 crore on each of the two.

Currently, HPCA is organising the second edition of the Jaypee Twenty20 ‘Mahasangram’, a local version of Twenty20 league which is billed as the world’s largest cricket tournament.

Last year, 14,300 players from 1,017 teams participated in the tournament and matches were played at 60 venues. Cash prizes of about Rs.30 lakh were distributed.