India vs South Africa: Who Will Dharamsala be Kind To?
The first of the three T20s between India and South Africa will be played in Dharamsala. The Proteas like the venue while the Indians have good memories of the ground. Who will have the upper hand?
India and South Africa will go toe to toe in Dharamsala in the first of three T20s on Friday. A clash that will be the curtain-raiser for what promises to be one of the most challenging and exciting cricket series in recent times. But is the choice of the venue for the first clash a surprising one?
South African T20 captain Francois du Plessis admitted, "I will be honest that I was quite surprised when I heard that we will be playing in Dharamsala first." The Proteas have a number of aggressive fast bowlers at their disposal and Dharamsala is a track that can be on the faster side.
Overall, Dharamsala has hosted just two ODI matches and India have a 50-50 record at the venue, but the Indian players all seem quite excited to be back at the scenic stadium. Indian Test captain Virat Kohli said, "Dharamsala has always been one of the most beautiful grounds in the world, not just India. It's always a great feeling coming here and seeing the view from the ground. You don't get to see this anywhere apart from maybe Cape Town." (SA Coach Russell Domingo Impressed With Virat Kohli's Aggressive Team India)
Ajinkya Rahane meanwhile said, "Whenever you enter this stadium you get a positive feeling, a positive vibe. Very scenic place, it's great to be back here."
Apart from its scenic value, the Dharamsala ground has also been good to a number of Indian players who are part of the current T20 squad. The last time Virat played on this ground he scored a century vs the West Indies. The 26-year-old in fact said, "That is something I clearly remember about this ground." (Dhoni Taught me to be Cool in CSK: Du Plessis)
Suresh Raina meanwhile reminisced, "I got my first Man of the Tournament (award) here against England and last time we played against West Indies, the crowd was massive here." Rahane said, "I have been playing here since my under-19 days and scoring really well here, so I've got some wonderful memories with me." (Team India Reaches Dharamsala for Boot Camp)
The Proteas are happy with the venue for the series opener. The Indians are upbeat about playing at a venue many of them have fond memories of. Who is Dharamsala going to be kind to?