By the end of this week, the Pakistan Cricket Board could get the nod from its government to travel to India for next month’s World Twenty20.
Another development which only strengthens this possibility is the fact that on Monday the ICC announced the schedule for the warm-up matches for the tournament and Pakistan’s matches are scheduled in Kolkata, where they play their first league match on March 16.
“We had applied for the clearance about eight-ten days back. We are waiting, but we are very positive,” Amjad Hussain, director, media coordination and implementation, told HT.
However, another key PCB official feels the political situation in Pakistan can still put their participation in jeopardy. “Here in Pakistan there are three thoughts. India has engaged in a ‘name and shame’ campaign against Pakistan at all international platforms. By refusing permission, Pakistan can also convey that India is not a safe place. And any security breach during the Pakistan team’s stay in India would give fuel to a faction here to run down the establishment,” said the official.
But the Indian cricket Board is geared up to host the Pakistan team. “We have not received any communication from the ICC about Pakistan not coming. Our schedule is ready and so are the hotels and travel itinerary of the Pakistan team. For us, Pakistan are very much part of the World Cup,” a tournament organising committee official told HT.
Pakistan are scheduled to play their league matches in Kolkata, Dharamsala and Mohali. If they advance to the semi-final, Delhi will host that match as the other semi-final is scheduled in Mumbai, where Shiv Sena opposes Pakistan teams or players being seen in action.
Last week, PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan said a proposal was floated on having Pakistan matches at neutral venues if its government refused permission to travel to India.
But ICC has already ruled out a neutral venue. If Pakistan keeps away, it would be replaced by another team from among the qualifiers.