Soon after the ODI World Cup got over last year, the officials at Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) had a discussion with the players on how to improve the practice facilities.

The players stated that with too much cricket happening throughout the year, there was quite a bit of wear and tear on the practice pitches, which needed urgent attention.

Led by Indian Premier League’s Governing Council chairman Arun Dhumal, the HPCA decided to install four hybrid pitches on the square of the scenic venue at the HPCA Stadium in Dharamshala, and SISGrass, a UK-based synthetic turf manufacturer, was tasked with the project.

Under the guidance of former England international Paul Taylor, his team worked round the clock from the second week of March this year and injected five per cent synthetic fibres into the natural surface to ensure the pitches were stronger and ready before the IPL.

“During a game, your centre wicket is always protected, but the load is high on the side wickets that are used for practice sessions. So, our objective was to provide good practice wickets to the teams and that’s why we decided to use this technology,” Dhumal told  Sportstar on Monday.

“The soil binding remains the same, the quality of the grass improves and the wickets are better. With this, we can take care of any wear and tear on the surface. For now, we have used this technology only for practice pitches and if and when the ICC gives approval for it to be used in international games, we will react accordingly,” he said.

| Video Credit:
Shayan Acharya

The players from Punjab Kings and Chennai Super Kings had long sessions over the last few days and according to Dhumal, the players were happy with the practice pitches and ‘did not even realise that there is five per cent fibre installed in it’.

According to Taylor, a left-arm seamer who has played two Tests and a lone ODI for England, “We use polyethylene monofilament fibre and the fundamental thing that is different about our pitch, is that it’s still 95 per cent a natural turf surface. There’s only five per cent of fibre injected into it…”

Having installed over 600 hybrid pitches across the globe – majorly in the UK and also a few in Dubai, where the conditions are different from England – Taylor hopes to install more such pitches in India after a successful stint in Dharamshala.