Sleet and low temperatures could disrupt England’s final Test in India

Dharamshala pavilion
Dharamshala is beautiful but likely to be freezing and wet the start of the fifth Test - Manjunath Kiran/AFP/Getty Images

England’s tour of India is at risk of finishing in farcical fashion with worsening weather forecasts suggesting the fifth Test could be interrupted by sleet and be played in temperatures of just one degree Celsius.

England’s squad regrouped in Chandigarh on Saturday night, with some members of the group spending the last few days in Bangalore playing golf. They travel north to Dharamshala, the Himalayan venue for the final Test, on Sunday morning.

They are likely to be greeted by Alpine conditions, with a biting chill in the air and rain falling. The winter months are still lingering in Dharamshala: the BBC’s forecast for Thursday’s first day of the Test predicts sleet, a high of 1C and an overnight low of -4C. Other forecasts are more optimistic, but the conditions look set to be like early-season England at best. The Indian met office forecasts wet conditions for the first two days.

Thousands of England fans are travelling for the game, with Dharmashala’s stunning views making it a bucket-list venue for cricket lovers. The game will be a treat for the eyes, even if it might have been sensible to play a game at this time of year in warmer climes further south.

The Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium has hosted just one Test before, against Australia in 2017, later in March. A year ago, Australia were due to play a Test at the ground, but it was shifted at two weeks’ notice to Indore because of issues with the outfield.

With India taking an unassailable 3-1 lead after the fourth Test in Ranchi, England have had a few days off.

They will return to training on Monday or Tuesday, with James Anderson, who is two shy of 700 Test wickets, expected to be fit after a tight quad kept him off the field as India won in Ranchi. Mark Wood is likely to return for Ollie Robinson, while Gus Atkinson could come into contention for a Test debut if England decide the conditions will be so seam-friendly that they only need one frontline spinner and therefore leave out Tom Hartley or Shoaib Bashir. Ben Stokes could return to bowling, however, which would alleviate the need for an extra seamer.

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