The fifth and final Test match between India and England is set to take place in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, introducing a different dimension to the series with untimely rain and lower temperatures. Unlike the previous matches played in more comfortable weather conditions across different regions of India, Dharamsala’s higher altitude and early March weather present a unique challenge.

The HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala, being the highest-altitude international venue in India, is known for its distinct conditions. Rainfall has been a consistent factor in the lead-up to the match, creating wet conditions with occasional interruptions. Despite Monday providing a window for ground preparation, the persistent rain has left the playing area damp.

While rain in April and May is typical for this region, having such conditions in early March is considered unusual. England, however, may find these conditions more familiar and conducive to their comfort in India during this time of the year.

The challenge for the curators lies in preparing the pitch amidst the rain-related interruptions. With only a couple of days remaining before the fifth Test, the curators face a time crunch. If the weather allows, they might still manage to create a decent playing surface for the anticipated clash between the two outstanding teams. The unpredictable weather adds an element of uncertainty, making the final Test even more intriguing.

The upcoming Test match in Dharamsala is likely to feature a slow-turning pitch, according to reports. The curator is expected to hold discussions with the Indian team management, led by captain Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid, to finalize the nature of the playing surface. While it may be challenging to alter the pitch drastically in just two days, decisions on the amount of grass to be left on it and when to water it could significantly impact the outcome.

Dravid and Rohit arrived in Dharamsala on Tuesday and are set to collaborate with the curators after attending an event in Bilaspur. The pitches in the ongoing series have not favored extreme turn, and the Dharamsala pitch is expected to follow the trend. Although it might not offer the variable bounce seen in Ranchi due to wide cracks, batting is anticipated to become progressively difficult from Day 3 onwards.

India has made a couple of changes to their squad for the final Test, with Jasprit Bumrah rejoining the team after being rested in the previous match. All-rounder Washington Sundar has been released to participate in the Ranji Trophy semi-final. The No.4 batting position remains a concern for India, with Rajat Patidar yet to score in the three Tests he has played. With KL Rahul still injured, Devdutt Padikkal stands as the potential backup, and if selected, he would be India’s fifth debutant in the series. The decisions around pitch conditions and team composition add intrigue to the crucial final Test in Dharamsala.


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