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Security concerns spook Pak, delays WT20 team, asks for venue change

Pakistan has asked the International Cricket Council to change the venue of the World T20 match with India from Dharamsala after a team it sent to the stadium said “security is not assured”, ESPNcricinfo reported late on Tuesday.

cricket Updated: Mar 09, 2016 09:26 IST
India-Pakistan World T20 match,Pakistan Cricket Board,International Cricket Council
Members of a Pakistani security team at the cricket stadium in Dharamsala on Monday.(AFP Photo)

Pakistan have delayed their departure for the World Twenty20 in India while they await the go-ahead from the government, which has concerns about the team’s security.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had sent a delegation of officials to check security at the venues earlier this week, with the Dharamsala venue for their March 19 clash against India of particular concern.

The delegation was scheduled to report their findings to the Pakistan interior ministry on Tuesday and the PCB had hoped the team could then depart for New Delhi on Wednesday.

Pakistan however asked the International Cricket Council (ICC) to change the venue of the match, stating “security is not assured”.

“PCB has delayed national women’s and men’s cricket team from travelling to India,” PCB spokesman Amjad Hussain told Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper.

“The final decision on teams departure to India for T20 World Cup will be taken after a formal go ahead by the interior ministry.”

PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan said on Monday that there was no question of Pakistan not playing in the tournament but that other venues might need to be considered.

“I have written to (ICC chairman Manohar Shashank) that if you want us to play somewhere else because of issues at Dharamsala, we are willing to consider that,” he told reporters in Lahore.

“We have never refused to play.”

Pakistan have not played a bilateral series with India for more than three years due to diplomatic tensions.

Read: India-Pakistan clash to go forward as scheduled: World T20 director

The tournament opened on Tuesday with qualifying matches before the main draw begins on March 15. The final will be held at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on April 3.

A Cricket Association of Bengal official who did not wish to be identified told Hindustan Times Eden Gardens should host the game. “Pakistan is already scheduled to play here on March 16. If the India-Pakistan match is shifted here, then Pakistan won’t have to travel,” he said.

Men of a Himachal Pradesh security force at the Dharamsala stadium on Tuesday. (Gurpreet Singh/HT Photo)

Pakistan open their tournament on March 14 against a qualifier in Kolkata before their match with India in Dharamsala five days later. They then face New Zealand on March 22 and Australia on March 25, with both those matches in Mohali.

Read: My role at World T20 will continue to be of a finisher: Dhoni

The PCB chief said security was the responsibility of state governments in India with the central government unwilling to direct their state counterparts on what to do.

Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh had told local media earlier this month there were concerns over whether they could provide adequate security for the Pakistan team in Dharamsala.

“Earlier, the chief minister of Himachal Pradesh had said they could not guarantee security but now it seems like they would provide the security,” Khan added.

An ESPNcricinfo report indicated that the ICC and BCCI would take a “final call” on the matter by Wednesday.

Khan had earlier proposed that World Twenty20 matches between India and Pakistan be played at neutral venues in the event the government does not allow the team to tour India.

First Published: Mar 09, 2016 01:28 IST