THE North-East is braced for one of the biggest events in its sporting history - England will play India today in the second one-day international held at Durham County Cricket club's Riverside Stadium.

The first England international held at the Riverside was against the West Indies last year, although this will be the first time an international match will be played into the night under floodlights.

If today's game sells out, it will be a record crowd of 17,000 at the Riverside following the construction of 11,700 extra seats.

Six beer tents will sell an estimated 50,000 pints and the match will be beamed across the world to an audience of millions.

Four generators have been installed to provide power for emergency lighting for the floodlit match.

Even the fast-food caterers have got in on the act. Indian food as well as the usual chips and burgers will be sold from concession vans.

Next June, the first Test match, probably against Zimbabwe, will be played at the stadium.

Today's game, televised live on Sky television with highlights on Channel 4, represents a major boost for the region, according to director of development agency One NorthEast, Tim Cantle-Jones.

"It all helps to promote a more modern image of the region," he said. "There's also the effect on the local economy as thousands head to Chester-le-Street and spend money."

Police are expecting heavy traffic on the roads ahead of the 2.30pm start.

More than 80 police and 200 club and council stewards will be responsible for traffic flow, parking and crowd behaviour.

Inspector Dave Marshall, of Chester-le-Street police, said that any pitch invasion would not be tolerated. He added that people not travelling to watch the cricket should avoid the area, especially between 1pm and 2.45pm.

Motorists travelling south on the A1M are advised to use the A167 at junction 59, the Aycliffe interchange.