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Rohit Sharma adored for 5.30AM move for ‘India’s future’ 150 kms away from Dharamsala before India vs England 5th Test

India vs England 5th Test: Rohit Sharma made a quick stop at Bilaspur to inaugurate the Khel Mahakumbh before linking up with the Indian team in Dharamsala.

Fresh off from attending the pre-wedding functions of Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant, Rohit Sharma had quite an eventful Wednesday. The India captain marked his arrival in Himachal Pradesh for the fifth Test against England in style, but not in Dharamsala. Approximately 150 kms away from the HPCA Stadium, Rohit reached Bilaspur in style – entering the city in a chopper – to attend the inauguration of the Khel Mahakumbh.

Rohit Sharma during the inauguration of Sansad Khel Mahakumbh at the Luhnu Cricket Ground. (PTI)

The Khel Mahakumbh is the foundation on which Khelo India is built. It’s more of a grass-roots level event, comprising sports competition. It ranges from school to state level across various age groups and stretches up to three months, rewarding athletes with cash awards. And for the occasion to be graced by Rohit and head coach Rahul Dravid was a big deal, especially for the Sports Minister of India, Anurag Thakur, who revealed that the India skipper left Delhi at 5.30 in the morning to reach the Luhnu Cricket Ground in time.

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“Rohit Sharma has come here from Delhi at 5.30 am to inaugurate our Khel Mahakumbh, I thank him wholeheartedly – If Rohit wanted, he could have refused to come here as the 5th Test was from 7th but he came as he knew that the future of India would be here,” said Thakur at the event,” Thakur said.

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That wasn’t all. Rohit and Dravid engaged in a friendly game of cricket. Rohit picked up the bat and faced his coach for a friendly few deliveries with the tennis ball. And once he was done, it was Dravid’s turn to pick up the bat as he gave the hundreds of fans in attendance reasons to cheer. It may not have been the perfect practice for the captain-coach duo ahead of the 5th Test but it was certainly a friendly warm-up nonetheless. Rohit and Dravid then headed back to Dharamsala where they linked up with the team and underwent their first nets ahead of the series finale.

Rohit back in business

After a 10-day break, the Indian team will be back in action hosting England for the last Test of this gruelling five-match series. With India having already captured it with an unassailable 3-1 lead attained in Ranchi, Rohit is eyeing the biggest Test series win in terms of margins. Last year, Rohit led India to a 2-1 win in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy against Australia, but another win here can see him better it with a 4-1 finish.

While Rohit will certainly be one of the men in focus, all eyes will be on Ravichandran Ashwin, who is set to play his 100th Test for India. The ace spinner will become the 14th Indian to complete a century of Tests, joining an illustrious list of rare Indian cricketers to the landmark. Having said that, Ashwin’s party could be spoiled due to the Dharamsala weather. With temperature expected to dip as low as 1 degree Celsius and rain on the horizon, the fifth Test is expected to be interrupted by rain.

But if the weather relents, the India vs England Test could be a shot at redemption for the HPCA Stadium, which has put in the hard yards in the last year. After last year’s 3rd India vs Australia Test was moved out of Dharamsala and rescheduled to Indore, a five-dayer featuring two of world cricket’s strongest teams is the ideal shot in the arm.

Having hosted five World Cup matches not too long ago, the stadium proved that it’s ready to host top-flight cricket games, and readied itself for the final showdown with a Ranji Trophy game not too long ago. Adding to the excitement is the newly-laid lush green outfield, which promises to prep Dharamsala up for a new innings.


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