It was perhaps in the fitness of things that the Rain Gods smiled on Saturday. Like most tourist spots in Himachal Pradesh, Dharamshala is also recovering from the pangs of coronavirus and the state government allowed cricket fans to enter a stadium for the first time this year.
Himachal Pradesh has been lashed by rain and snow this week and there was 90 per cent prediction of rain on Saturday. The fans did not care.
When they lapped up the 10,000-odd tickets on offer -- the government allowed 50 per cent attendance with strict COVID protocols -- the interest of spectators in this India vs Sri Lanka fixture was clearly evident.
Pujas were offered at the 'Indrunag' temple and a 'Kanya pujan' was also done at the stadium to please the Rain Gods.
"It was nothing short of miracle," said Arun Dhumal, the BCCI treasurer, who played a big role in getting Dharamshala back-to-back T20 games of the current India vs Sri Lanka series.
When there is cricket, there is business for the local hoteliers and thus the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association officials did every thing to ensure that the fans were not disappointed.
There was fans from everywhere, even from Kerala and Gujarat. All 500 hotels and homestays in and around Dharamshala were occupied, said HPCA's Mohit Sood, as fans came from Punjab ,Chandigarh, Delhi and Haryana.
"In the morning, the weather office gave a yellow alert saying there will be rain. Our fingers were crossed and then the rest is, as they say, was God's will," said Sood.
In September 2019 and March 2020, a T20 international and a ODI, respectively, between India and South Africa were abandoned due to rain. The HPCA thus needed divine intervention this time.
India's emphatic seven-wicket win, scripted by Shreyas Iyer and Ravindra Jadeja, triggered celebrations that went into the early hours of Sunday.
Rijuta Goswami, an engineering graduate from Jammu, who in 2020 had returned disappointed, was jubilant.
“When I started from home, I prayed to Mata Vaishno Devi. All through our drive to Dharamshala, I recited Hanuman Chalisa. I was so happy to see bright sunshine before the match started. It was a dream come true," she said.
The hoteliers did "80 to 90 percent" business in the last three days. Cricket finally brought the smile back to Dharamshala and the party is expected to continue till the wee hours of Monday.