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SIS Pitches fits India’s first hybrid cricket surface at HPCA Stadium

Featured image credit: SIS Pitches

Featured image credit: SIS Pitches

UK-based sports surface specialist SIS Pitches has fitted hybrid cricket pitches at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) Stadium in Dharamshala, marking the first such installation in India.

The installation of the company’s SISGrass product was completed in partnership with Indian fine turf specialist Greater Ten. The project marks the first in what is expected to be a series of major installations across India in 2024 and beyond.

SISGrass’ investment in India follows a decision by the International Cricket Council to permit the use of hybrid surfaces for T20 and 50-over competitions. The SIS team has chosen India as its next region of development after widespread success installing hybrids across English cricket grounds.

The Universal machine used in Dharamshala to install the hybrid surface was first developed by SISGrass in 2017. The machine injects a small percentage of polymer fibre with the natural turf found inside cricket stadiums, and the composition is said to be more resilient to stresses created during play.

The system is also designed to prolong the life of pitches, guarantee an even bounce and ease pressure on groundspeople. Completed installations are predominantly natural grass, with only 5% of polymer fibre used.

HPCA Stadium has a capacity of 23,000. Located on the edge of the Himalayas, it is regarded as one of the most picturesque stadiums in cricket.

Paul Taylor, a former England international and SIS’s international cricket director, said: “India is home to millions of cricket fans, players and professionals who play almost all year round. This huge demand puts pressure on facilities, which can make it difficult for people to access good quality pitches in their local area. Our hybrid system will create far more opportunities for people to participate in the sport, guaranteeing a higher quality of play at every level of competition.”

R.P. Singh, president of the HPCA, said: “The HPCA has consistently embraced the latest advances in cricket, and we believe SISGrass’s technology will be game-changing. Maintaining top-notch practice pitches is crucial for player development, as traditional surfaces struggle under the demands of rigorous training schedules. SISGrass’s integration of natural grass with synthetic fibres creates a robust and durable playing surface, ensuring players are prepared for competitive play. We are confident the installation will pave the way for a brighter future for Indian cricket, not just in Himachal Pradesh but across the nation.”

Hybrid pitches have already been sanctioned by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for T20 and 50-over competitions, and this year they will be used in four-day County Championship matches for the first time.

The Universal machine has already been used to install SISGrass at almost every major county ground in England, including Lord’s, the Kia Oval, Edgbaston, Emirates Old Trafford and Trent Bridge.

The machine will now travel to Ahmedabad and Mumbai, where it will stitch more pitches for practice and match play. The machine will remain in India after the first three installations are complete, making it immediately available to other grounds and facilities as projects are approved.