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World's highest cricket ground in Himachal awaits official matches
Chail (Himachal Pradesh), July 18 : Located at an altitude of 7,500 feet above sea-level, the Chail cricket ground in Himachal Pradesh is described to be the highest cricket ground in the world.
However, as for the index of its upkeep, it is at the nadir.
Despite its unique location, Chail cricket ground is today starved of first class matches.
The Curator-groundsman's absence has left the cricket pitch in shambles, and the State's cricket association seems to be least worried.
Local youth use the venue for inter-school matches and units the Indian Army located nearby hold their sports meets and march-pasts.
"This is the highest stadium of Asia and people come here from far away places like America, New Zealand and other places. We want this ground to be utilised for just one particular game-cricket. It will attract international fame. One wouldn't find this type of ground anywhere," said Puneet Kumar, a youngster.
This ground was created after levelling a hilltop by the cricket loving Bhupinder Singh, the Maharaja of Patiala in 1893. uge trees of deodar and pine surround the playground.
For many years, the cricket ground merited a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records. Though the record has not been broken, Guinness Book has decided to delete the documentation because no competitive cricket is being held here.
Many promising youth instead of playing on cricket pitch can be found practicing cricket on other sports fields.
"This cricket ground of Chail has been existing since the times of Maharaja Bhupendra Singh who had established it. It has always been known by the name of a cricket ground because the Maharaja used to play friendly matches with the Britishers," said Rajesh Sharma, a sport lover.
Local youth believe that the ground despite so much neglect can still be restored. It can also promote tourism in the region. They want the ground to be properly developed as a cricket ground.
Avinash Katoch, one cricket fan said although since no international cricket match has been played at Chail, many leading Test players still come to practice here.
Himachal Pradesh government is also interested in building a cricket stadium at this highest ground.
"This cricket ground is under the possession of the Army. We are planning to request them to give the land to us for the purpose of making a stadium. Whether it is Chail's cricket ground or Anne Dale Ground at Shimla, we are ready to give a compensatory land to the army people. We will speak to the State Cricket Association and will make good cricket stadiums at Chail and Shimla," said Prem Kumar Dhumal, Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh.
In 1891, Maharaj Bhupinder Singh of Patiala incurred the wrath of Lord Kitchener. It led to the restriction of his entry into the summer capital, Shimla.
This incensed the Maharaja and he vowed to build a new summer capital for himself. So he rebuilt the place (Chail) as per his requirements.
Chail is today surrounded by the forests of Chir Pine and giant Deodars trees.
Sports lovers in Chail and Shimla now long for a cricket Stadium and hope to have one soon.