'No security concerns, India-Pak match is on'

ICC World T20 Tournament Director M.V. Sridhar hopeful that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) would give a go-ahead to its national team to play the scheduled match against India at the HPCA Stadium here on March 19.

A tight security is in place for the World T20 matches to be played at the HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala.   -  THE HINDU

ICC World T20 Tournament Director M.V. Sridhar was hopeful that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) would give a go-ahead to its national team to play the scheduled match against India at the HPCA Stadium here on March 19.

Against the backdrop of a Pakistani delegation visiting the stadium here to take stock of the security arrangements ahead of the much-anticipated match, Sridhar said there was no reason why the PCB should prevent its team from playing here.

“The match is on and we have sold tickets online. We are hopeful that the PCB, in consultation with their Government, will come back with a positive response,” Sridhar told mediapersons here on Tuesday.

Pointing out that two teams from Pakistan had played at the venue in the past, Sridhar, also the general manager (cricket operations) of the BCCI, said local authorities had apprised the visiting delegation of the security arrangements here.

“The district administration (of Kangra) has categorically stated that they are committed to the complete security of not just the India-Pakistan match but of all the matches which are going to be held here in Dharamsala. That is a commitment given by the Board. That has been clearly communicated to the Pakistani delegation.

“Their visit was primarily to understand the ground realities. They were here to see if there was actually any cause for concern.”

The situation had become tricky after a group of ex-servicemen demanded that the Pakistan cricket team should not play here in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the Pathankot airbase. Several soldiers from Himachal Pradesh had died in the incident.

The issue got highlighted when Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh expressed the state’s inability to provide security for the match. However, the state had to agree following a court directive.

“We respect the sentiments of the people and their families who have served our country. This is an international event. India versus Pakistan is a highly-anticipated encounter no matter where you play. We should keep sport aside from politics,” said Sridhar.

Asserting that Dharamsala was prepared to handle a match of this magnitude, the Tournament Director said, “In a worst case scenario we will sit down and see (what can be done).”

Sridhar said instead of focusing on negative aspects everybody should appreciate the fact India was hosting 'the biggest ever World Cup.'

“This is the first time India is conducting the men and women's World Cups. If you take the 2011 World Cup as an example we only had 29 matches. This time we have 58 matches,” he said.