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|PCB ready to accommodate Indian concerns|
Sunday, February 15 2004 18:08 Hrs (IST)
The three-member Indian delegation currently inspecting the security arrangements in Pakistan and top PCB officials met in Lahore on Sunday to discuss the logistics and safety measures for the historic tour.
Sami-ul Hassan, PCB's media manager, said that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had not opposed Karachi and Peshawar being among the venues but they were of the view that the duration of the team's stay in these two places was too long.
"We will try to accommodate the Indian concerns in the itinerary. But Peshawar and Karachi will remain as venues," Hassan said.
He said the Indian team will play three Tests and five One-day Internationals as decided and there was no question of shortening the tour.
Hassan said the Indian team has not raised any objection of playing matches in Karachi and Peshwar, the two venues where other touring teams have refused to play on security grounds.
However, in view of the delegation's concern over the period of stay in these two cities, the PCB may consider allocating a One-dayer to Karachi instead of a Test match.
The three-member Indian delegation comprising BCCI jointsecretary Prof R S Shetty, inspector general of police Yashovardhan Azad and communication director Amrit Mathurdiscussed various aspects of the tour and also presented theirobservations of the security arrangements during the meeting.
Briefing the media after the meeting, PCB chief Shaharyar Khan said the talks were held in a cordial atmosphere in which free and frank discussions took place over a host of issues including finalisation of security arrangements, venues and the itinerary.
Shaharyar said a joint assessment of all the issues relating to the tour including security was made with the Indian delegation.
The Indian team would return home on Monday and submit itsfindings to the BCCI.
"As the tour was formally cleared by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Saturday, the PCB foresees no hurdles and expects the BCCI to finalise the entire programme by February 19," Shaharyar said.
According to the tentative programme, the Indian team would arrive in Lahore on March 4 to play three Tests and five One-day Internationals. The first Test has been proposed to be held in Lahore on March 11.
Besides Shaharyar, the meeting was attended among others by Abdul Rauf Chowdhary, Additional Home Secretary of Pakistan who interacted with the Indian officials on security related issues like reported threats to players like Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly from militant outfits.
A top PCB official said from Lahore that the issue of threats from the militants groups to some of the cricketers figured in Sunday's meeting and Choudhary assured that no such threat existed as the country has not received any such information from any of its agencies. He also insisted thatthere was no threat or danger to any of the players.
"The issue of security threats to certain individual players figured as a passing reference and Pakistan promised foolproof security to Indian players," the PCB official said.
Earlier, the Indian officials met the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Shivshankar Menon at Lahore on Saturday and briefed him about their impressions on the security arrangements.
During their weeklong stay in Pakistan, the Indian officials visited the stadiums in Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Karachi, Multan, Faisalabad and Lahore.
They visited the facilities in Gadhafi stadium in Lahore on Sunday and inspected the facilities and security arrangements.
Pakistan opened up all its cricket facilities to the Indian officials during their visit. At times, the delegation was also given practical demonstration of security arrangements in places like Karachi.
Besides discussing on security, logistics and venues, the Pakistan and Indian officials also finalised rules and regulations guiding the players.
'Teams' stay must be limited to two cities'