Kolkata to host India-Pakistan clash

The suspense over the conduct of the India-Pakistan World T20 match ended with the ICC announcing the shifting of the March 19 encounter from Dharamshala to Kolkata.

Following the official announcement by the ICC, it was now up to Pakistan to re-schedule its arrival plans and reach Kolkata ahead of its first match on March 16.   -  PTI

The suspense over the conduct of the India-Pakistan World T20 match ended with the ICC announcing the shifting of the March 19 encounter from Dharamshala to Kolkata. >Read: Sad for Dharamsala, says Ganguly

Reading out from a prepared script, the ICC CEO said, ““The decision to relocate the match has been taken for security reasons, following consultation with the BCCI, the State associations, the ICC and the BCCI security consultants and other relevant authorities.

“The concerns over security initially arose following the public comments, recently reported in the media, by the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, warning of potential demonstration and disruptions, into the peaceful conduct of the match.”





Safety first

He said the security and safety of the cricketers are paramount, which led to the decision.

“Our concerns relate both to uncertainty as to the level of those threats as well as the level of commitment to implement any security plan developed to mitigate such threats," the former South Africa wicket-keeper said.

"The decision was not taken lightly. The ICC and the BCCI understand the disappointment that is likely to be felt by many over the decision to move the match. But the safety and security of the event is of paramount importance to the ICC and we have taken into consideration the concerns shared with us by our security advisors as well as the Pakistan Cricket Board.”

>There is no danger of World T20 being compromised: ICC

Pakistan refused to play in Dharamsala and on Tuesday night, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) held back their team from travelling to India following security concerns over the game. “It is not the first time venues have been changed due to security issues. The state government should've raised their concerns earlier,” Richardson added.

According to Tournament Director M. V. Sridhar, Mohali and Bangalore were also discussed as possible venues for the match. Pakistan wanted Kolkata or Mohali. It made sense since Pakistan was due to open its campaign on March 16 in Kolkata and play two more in Kolkata on March 22 and 25.

Choosing Bangalore (instead of Kolkata) would have meant added travel for the Pakistan team. As a result, Eden Gardens got the nod.

For those who purchased the tickets online for the match, a decision has been made to offer the choice of full refund or the opportunity to exchange their tickets for the match in Kolkata.

Watch: >Revamped drainage system to aid Eden Gardens

With a capacity of around 62,000, Eden Gardens could easily absorb those wanting to exchange their tickets. “That was one of the primary concerns when we discussed shifting the match from Dharamshala,” added Sridhar.

It may be recalled 10 days ago, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh wrote to the Home Ministry stating the State government cannot provide security for the match. In a statement released to the media, he had said, “Seeing the attitude of Pakistan towards India and the recent terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir where soldiers from Himachal Pradesh have also sacrificed their lives, in such a situation, cricket match with Pakistan should not take place, at least in Dharamshala.”

Following the official announcement by the ICC, it was now up to Pakistan to re-schedule its arrival plans and reach Kolkata ahead of its first match on March 16.

Richardson said it was made clear to the Pakistan Cricket Board that the ICC and the BCCI had done everything possible to host the match in Kolkata.

“The PCB was waiting for an official announcement. Now that it has been made, we should soon hear of their arrival plans,” said Sridhar.

As per the ICC itinerary, Pakistan is slated to camp in Kolkata where it will play two warm-up games (against Bengal on March 12 and Sri Lanka on March 14) and start its campaign against Group A qualifier on March 16 in the same venue.

Pak team departure still on hold

PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan welcomed the ICC’s decision to shift the venue but kept the Pakistan team’s departure on hold awaiting an assurance from the Indian government. “Both men and women teams [departure] have been deferred. I have also informed this to the government because it has asked for my opinion,” he said at a press conference.

“Pakistan government has not talked with the Indian government. This threat is on us so the PCB has talked with the Indian government. It is the PCB that is raising this issue with the BCCI, ICC and the government of India that this assurance should be given by India. We have not given any deadline.”

>Pakistan women's warm-up match rescheduled

Anurag Thakur statement:

It is extremely unfortunate that the venue for match between India and Pakistan has been shifted at the last minute. While the State’s reputation has been jeopardised, however, the nation also has been projected in a rather bad light. It will reflect a dent on India and send a message to the global audience that our country is not capable of ensuring security for as less as 30 people.

Pakistan has never raised any issues pertaining to their participation in a cricket event. However, owing to the petty politics played misusing the emotions of martyrs’ families, HP CM ensured that PCB demanded utmost assurance before confirming participation.