Dharamsala: The recent controversy surrounding the IPL cheergirls notwithstanding, Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) president Anurag Thakur told MiD DAY on Tuesday that the young women are a hit nevertheless. "The other day, one of my staff members at the counters selling match tickets told me that some fans came in with a unique request. When they were asked which stand they wanted tickets for, they replied 'woh cheergirlswala stand' (the stand where the cheergirls are). This just goes to show that the spectators love them," said Thakur.
In a bid to complete their work as soon as possible, the construction workers at the HPCA's upcoming five-star facility The Pavilion ended up disrupting the stay of the Royal Challengers Bangalore here. It is learnt that the HPCA have instructed the contractors to speed up work at the only five --star facility in the city so that cricket body can then invite the International Cricket Council for an inspection following which the HPCA Cricket Stadium could be awarded international status. The facility is nearing completion and the RCB team checked in a couple of days ago. However, disturbed by the noise of the construction work and the incomplete facility, they decided to check out the very next day and moved into the Upper Dharamsala Mcleodganj area. RCB's star batsman Chris Gayle even tweeted about the disturbance. "These ppl can't be serious! 4:35am and construction work going on, hammer knocking etc...this got to be a record ¦ I swear... damn! What next? Sigh," wrote Gayle on Twitter on the eve of the match.
This is the first time the Royal Challengers Bangalore team is visiting the city of Dharamsala the gateway to the temporary residence of Tibetan spiritual leader in exile, the Dalai Lama. And it is learnt that team owner Vijay Mallya is very keen to visit the abode of the Lama here in Mcleodganj, which is just five minutes away from the RCB team hotel.
The Lama arrived home from an international tour on Tuesday and the RCB team management immediately extended an official invitation to him for last night's match against Kings XI Punjab. They also requested for a meeting with him at his residence on Wednesday.
A team official told MiD DAY: "Mr Mallya and the team are so keen to meet Dalai Lama that even if he is unable to meet them early morning tomorrow, they don't mind waiting to see him sometime later in the day even if it means doing so en route to the airport tomorrow for their flight out."
It is learnt that when Dharamsala witnessed mild thunderstorms and rain about an hour before the start of the IPL tie between Kings XI Punjab and Royal Challengers Bangalore, the Punjab camp began praying to the rain-gods to stay away as they are in a must-win scenario and splitting points would mean they won't make it to the play-offs. Luckily for them, and to the surprise of many locals here, the weather changed almost instantly.
"Normally, when it rains like this it does not relent easily. So, we took all precautions and not only covered the playing strip but also the adjoining areas fearing the worst. "However, this evening not only did the rains disappear quickly but the sky cleared too, which is quite surprising," one groundsman told MiD DAY.
The lathi-charging of spectators outside cricket stadiums in recent times have given cops in Bangalore, Motera and Nagpur a bad name.
However, they could learn a thing or two from the Himachal Pradesh police. An official of the HPCA told MiD DAY that the cops here have been taught some strong lessons in etiquette and so no spectator will witness any high handedness whatsoever.
"Let alone lathi-charging anyone, the cops here have been instructed to watch their tone while speaking to spectators too," said a ground official.
And right enough, the cops stationed at the main gates of the HPCA stadium here while doing the mandatory bag checks much to the irritation of the public were seen repeating rather politely: "Please sir, hamare saath cooperate kijiye, yeh aap hi ki suraksha ke liye hai (please cooperate with us, this is for your safety only)."