The Indian cricket Board is confident of resolving uncertainty over hosting the India-Pakistan World Twenty20 tie in Dharamsala on March 19, the BCCI secretary, Anurag Thakur, said on Thursday.
Thakur said the BCCI had no Plan B in place for the March 19 tie, which is in focus after the Himachal Pradesh chief minister, Virbhadra Singh, wrote to the union government that security could be an issue because ex-servicemen and families of slain army officials were opposed to staging a match involving Pakistan, which is seen as having backed the recent Pathankot attacks.
“We’ll try to solve this issue. We all respect martyrs. But we hosted Pakistan in Dharamsala for a match in 2005, so we should not give any different shape to this,” Thakur said at a media event to announce the signing of Pepsi as an associate sponsor of the BCCI.
“There is nothing like that (standby venue). It is not that easy to makes changes at this stage (with the tournament starting in a few days),” Thakur said.
The BCCI secretary said Virbhadra Singh, who heads a Congress government in the state --- Thakur is a BJP MP from the state and president of the party’s youth wing --- was not opposed to the match and has promised to talk to the ex-servicemen’s association. The assurance came after Thakur called on the CM on Wednesday.
With the WT20 starting on March 8 - India open the main tournament on March 15 with a match against New Zealand --- there was very little time even if the BCCI wanted to search for an alternative venue, Thakur said. “It is a very prestigious tournament. We are not hosting it with Sri Lanka, Bangladesh or Pakistan. We are hosting it alone and the onus is on us as the hosts.”
“We all condemn the Pathankot attacks, stand by our martyrs. But can’t bring politics into sports,” he said.
On the Himachal government saying it can’t provide security for the match --- the HP government has no problems in staging the other matches at the hill venue --- Thakur said that should not be the case, adding: “There are no hard feelings (on the part of the state government)”.
Pepsi, which had quit as IPL title sponsor saying that it was concerned by the negative image of the Board, said it had never snapped its ties with the game. It will be one of three associate sponsors the BCCI will be signed on for four years. It is expected to bring a revenue of around R150 crore, Thakur said.