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India vs South Africa: Dharamsala ready for cricket in the time of coronavirus

DHARAMSALA: It was Holi on Tuesday and yet you had to really look out for the usual bustling, in-your-face celebrations here. But as you walked the streets towards the HPCA stadium, you could barely miss the two hot topics in the hill station at the moment- the ODI between India and South Africa on Thursday and awareness about coronavirus. The reason behind the low-key Holi celebrations here is prevention against contracting coronavirus.

The Indian cricket board (BCCI) is already facing the heat from many quarters for going ahead with the IPL as the virus claims more victims around the world by the day. As the locals rushed to throng the practice area to watch the Indian team train on Tuesday afternoon, the virus and possibility of rain on match day dominated the murmurs.

The South African camp has decided to strictly stick to its itinerary – which includes curbs on the number practice sessions, media interactions and negligible public interactions. The visitors didn’t come out for a hit in the nets on Tuesday. The Indian team, however, looks more relaxed and at ease with the situation. There was the usual camaraderie amongst the boys and hardly any hesitance in shaking hands with people – something that the medical experts have advised to refrain from.


Innovative billboards containing measures that should be taken to stay safe have been put up around the venue

“The Indian team was given a briefing about the coronavirus when they were in New Zealand a couple of weeks ago. They are aware of the dos and don’ts,” a senior BCCI official told TOI.

However, the government agencies here have directed the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) to take all necessary steps to ensure there is no outbreak in the hill station. The tourism industry, the lifeline of the economy here, has already taken a hit with stringent restrictions put in place. The hotels have been sent advisories from HPCA and government about the need to check the background and travel history of their guests coming in for the match. “There has been no case of coronavirus in Dharamsala. It’s up to us that it remains that way. The medical facilities are not strong enough here to deal with an outbreak,” an HPCA source told TOI.

The HPCA, on its part, has put up huge innovative billboards around the area that suggest the precautions that need to be taken. The boards also talk about the dos and don’ts while requesting the public to not panic. “The chief medical officer is personally screening people coming in through the airport,” informed an HPCA official. “At the stadium, we have got 10 doctors manning the entry points. There are laser thermometers to screen all the spectators. There will be masks all amenities required for precaution will be available besides the usual medical facilities like ambulance,” the source added.
Offering prayers to keep rain away
Weather has not been kind to the HPCA stadium whenever there has been an international fixture here. The last one here-a T20I between India and South Africa last September-was washed out without a ball being bowled. The forecast isn’t encouraging this time too with rain expected on Wednesday and Thursday. The HPCA officials organized a puja at a local temple to keep rain away. “It has always been a ritual here and people here believe that the previous international matches happened because of it despite poor weather. Last time the puja was not done properly that’s why it is believed that the match was washed out,” an HPCA source said.
Besides the superstition, the HPCA has ensured that it has brought in big covers to cover the entire ground unlike the last instance.
Source : timesofindia