Thatscricket - News - 'Come on India, let's play in Pakistan'

Published: Saturday, February 14, 2004, 0:47 [IST]
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Karachi:Former Pakistani cricket greats and fans alike called on the Indian Government and cricketers not to postpone or curtail their historic tour of Pakistan next month, for which they have waited for so long.

"The whole world is waiting for the series and with just 20-25 days away, there are reports of the tour being put off, cancelled or curtailed," former captain Zaheer Abbas, famous for his run riot against India in 1970s, said.

Added the national cricket hero: "I sincerely hope the series goes ahead as planned."

Another former captain Imran Khan said the Indian Government must take a positive stance on the series.

"It all depends on the Indian Government, they have revived the ties and they will decide on the tour and I hope for a positive decision," said Imran.

Media reports from India say there are growing doubts over whether India's first Test tour of Pakistan in almost 15 years will go ahead, with the Indian Government wanting it postponed until after its general elections in April-May.

India is scheduled to play three Tests and five One-day Internationals in Pakistan from March 3 to April 15.

Any delay would mean the tour would have to be pushed back for at least a year due to unsuitable weather and prior commitments of both teams.

The Economic Times of India reported in a front page story on Friday that it had been told by Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Lal Krishna Advani that his Ministry was against the tour for security reasons.

And Swami Chinmayanand, Advani's junior colleague at the Home Ministry, said on television in India that the nuclear proliferation scandal involving Pakistani scientists had forced his Government to rethink the security of the national cricket team.

But Pakistan's chief selector Wasim Bari asked: "Nuclear proliferation, what's that to do with cricket? Whenever the ties between Pakistan and India are revived, such things come up and I think India must look at the positive side because 90 percent of the Indians want this series to happen," Bari said.

Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Shaharyar Khan denied there are any doubts over the tour and ruled out the relocation of the series elsewhere.

"They are all media reports and nothing official," Khan said.

Pakistan had to play its home series against the West Indies and Australia in Sri Lanka and Sharjah in 2002 after both teams refused to tour Pakistan over security fears in the wake of the US-led war in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Jagmohan Dalmiya, president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), said a final decision on the Test tour would be taken after a three-member delegation returns from Pakistan next Monday.

The BCCI delegation, which includes a security expert from the home ministry, is visiting venues in Pakistan to study the security and players' arrangements for the tour.

Pakistan's corporate sector, which had been anxiously looking forward to the series, is prepared to be disappointed.

"We have planned a lot of activities but we are now skeptical, in fact the whole corporate sector has gone skeptical over the series," said advertiser Shams Kamal.

And cricket fans are upset. "I have never seen India play here," said Mohammad Amin.

"Come on India, and play Pakistan -- I don't think India will lose, they stand a good chance of winning," he said.

Pak rules out play at neutral venues

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