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|Indian cricket team to cross border into Pak|
Saturday, February 14 2004 13:05 Hrs (IST)
Ending uncertainty of the last few days that the tour may be postponed till the completion of the elections in India, External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha said, "after taking into consideration all aspects, it was decided that the two countries should go ahead with their cricket matches as proposed".
As regards the dates of matches, he said it was for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to fix the schedule in consultation with its counterpart in Pakistan. Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani and Finance Minister Jaswant Singh also attended the meeting.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shahryar Khan welcomed the Government's decision to go ahead with the tour saying it is a "positive move". The tour was never in doubt for PCB, he said.
Doubts arose about the tour, which was proposed to be for a duration of six weeks starting early next month, after the Home Ministry had informally suggested to the BCCI to postpone it till after the completion of Lok Sabha polls.
The Home Ministry had apprehended that any untoward incident arising out of the clash between the two cricketing giants could have serious repercussions in India during the election time. There were also reports that the security of Indian cricketers could be at risk in Pakistan during a long series.
Captain Sourav Ganguly had given expression to players' apprehensions that their security could be in jeopardy and sought guarantees from the BCCI. A three-member BCCI team including a security expert from the Home Ministry is currently on a visit to Pakistan to assess the security arrangements at all the important venues for the proposed series including Peshawar and Karachi.
The team is in Lahore where the PCB chief is expected to brief the members on assurances from Pakistan Government side that the arrangements would be foolproof and there need be no concern.