The hills are alive. And the songs they’re singing might be music to Steve Smith’s ears.

We are in Dharamsala, folks. Beautiful rolling hills, one of the prettiest stadiums in the world. The land of the Dalai Lama. But considering the general tenor of this series so far, peace will be the last thing on Virat Kohli and Smith’s minds.

Amidst the many various sub-themes of this series, the one which has taken centre-stage (before DRS and Shoulder-Gate overtook it) has been around the 22 yards in the middle on which the action takes place.

So what will Dharamsala provide? Will it be like Ranchi was written off, called “mud rolled together”, “patchy”, “dead”, the “dodgiest deck in the series” but finally provided five days of attritrional yet exciting cricket.

No one can say how the pitch will behave. But one can make a few educated guesses. And, located up in the hills where it is much cooler, everything suggests that the Dharamsala track could provide the pacers with plenty of purchase.

This will be the first Test match held at the picturesque Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium. But the venue hosted three Ranji Trophy matches in the last season. An analysis of the numbers in those three matches doesn’t make for the best of readings if you’re a spinner.

A total of 101 wickets fell in these three matches and 88 of these wickets were taken by the pacers. That’s a whopping 87 percent. Bengal’s Ashok Dinda took a 10-wicket match haul against Railways in a match where Karn Sharma was the only spinner to take a wicket over the four innings.

Madhya Pradesh’s Ishwar Pandey also had figures of 5/29 to his name when his team played Baroda in December at this venue. In that match, Baroda were bowled out for only 114 in the last innings after being set a target of 347.

Dharamsala has also hosted eight Twenty20 Internationals along with several Indian Premier League matches. Last year, at the World Twenty20, New Zealand defended a total of 142 against Australia at this venue mainly through the help of left-arm pacer Mitchell McClenaghan who took 3/17 and Corey Anderson who took 2/29.

In three One-Day Internationals played at this ground since 2013, 24 of the 43 wickets have been taken by pacers with fast-medium pacer Tim Bresnan bagging figures of 4/45 in the first-ever ODI at this ground. Much more recently, Hardik Pandya surprised many by getting steep bounce and finishing with figures of 3/31 against New Zealand in the first ODI of that series in October. Unlike the Ranji Trophy numbers, the distribution is not as skewed but still favours the pacers: 56 percent to the pacers compared to 44 percent to the spinners.

The average first innings score, though, sees substantial variation between the ODI and the T20I formats. The average first innings score in three ODIs at the venues is only 249, in contrast to 166 in the T20I format. This perhaps shows that the longer the match, the better it becomes for pacers.

But then, maybe these numbers won’t mean anything. Maybe, the curator is cocking a smile at everyone. For all you know, both Kohli and Smith will go in with the extra pacer only to find that it’s a pitch which turns from the very first session. It’s been that kind of series.