Thatscricket - News - BCCI security delegation arrives in Pakistan

Published: Tuesday, February 10, 2004, 0:48 [IST]
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Lahore:An Indian security delegation has arrived in Lahore to clear the last hurdles in a planned cricket series with Pakistan, the first in this country for 14 years.

"They (Indian delegation) have arrived in Lahore to assess security and other aspects of the tour," Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) operations general manager Zakir Khan said on Monday.

"We have already committed that we will provide the best security to the Indian cricket team," Khan said.

"It is a reconnaissance tour, and besides security they (Indians) will assess different aspects of the tour, which include ground and accommodation facilities."

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) decided to send the security delegation after some players reportedly expressed concerns over security in Pakistan.

Senior police official and security expert Yashovardhan Azad heads the delegation with Ratnakar Shetty, joint secretary of the BCCI, and Amrit Mathur, media manager and a former administrative manager of the national team.

Azad, the elder brother of former cricket international Kirti Azad, was put in charge of security for the Pakistani team on its last tour of India in early 1999.

"We are here with open minds and besides security assessments we will inspect cricketing arrangements which have been a routine before an international series," Mathur said.

When Mathur's attention was drawn towards India captain Saurav Ganguly's comments, quoted in the Indian media on Monday, saying his players had safety concerns over the March-April tour of Pakistan, Mathur refused to comment saying: "I don't want to make any comment on that but yes I have read it and aware of it."

The security delegation will arrive in Islamabad Monday night and meet Indian ambassador Shivshankar Menon on Tuesday. They are also expected to meet Pakistan's interior minsitry officials.

"We are here for an overall assessment, travel, grounds and accommodation and security is one of those things," said Mathur, who toured Pakistan as part of PILCOM (Pakistan-India-Lanka Cup Organising Management) during the 1987 World Cup.

In October last year, India lifted a bilateral ban on cricket series that it imposed in 2001 and approved its team's tour to Pakistan as relations began to thaw after April last year.

The delegation will assess security at all the venues for a three-day side game, three Tests and five One-day games to be played in March-April.

The itinerary for the series will be finalised only after the delegation submits its report to the BCCI, which has a proposed itinerary from the PCB.

The delegation will meet police officials and para-military staff in Lahore, Multan, Karachi, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi and Peshawar during their eight-day stay in Pakistan.

The volatile southern city of Karachi and border town of Peshawar neighbouring Afghanistan -- the two venues where South Africa and New Zealand refused to play matches last year -- have been the main worries.

Australia and West Indies refused to play in Pakistan due to security fears after September 2001 attacks in the United States. South Africa and New Zealand teams have been reluctant to visit and delayed their tours.

BCCI team to arrive in Pak on Feb 9

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