Thatscricket - News - Karachi, Peshawar continue to be the bone of contention

Published: Tuesday, February 17, 2004, 18:38 [IST]
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New Delhi:Cricket officials from India and Pakistan are set for another round of shadow boxing this week as they iron out the itinerary for next month's Test series in Pakistan.

Even though the Indian Government on Saturday ended weeks of speculation by clearing the ice-breaking tour, the respective cricket Boards failed to reach an agreement on where the matches should be played.

India are scheduled to play three Tests and five One-day Internationals in March and April on their first full tour of Pakistan since 1989.

The bone of contention is the Southern metropolis of Karachi and the Northwestern city of Peshawar, where South Africa and New Zealand declined to play earlier this season because of security concerns.

Karachi has a history of ethnic violence and bomb blasts, while Peshawar is situated close to the volatile Afghanistan border areas.

While the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) wants two of the three Test matches to be hosted at these venues, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) would prefer to play only One-day matches there.

"Yes, nothing is finalised yet," conceded Amrit Mathur, who was part of the three-member BCCI delegation which returned from Pakistan on Monday after a tour of prospective venues.

The delegation, which included a security expert from the Federal Home ministry, will submit a report to the Government in the next two days.

"We have reservations about Karachi and Peshawar as venues for Test matches since that will involve a week's stay for the team at either place," Mathur said. "But I am sure a solution will be found."

Mathur said the final itinerary was unlikely to be announced before Friday after the BCCI had studied the Government's security report.

BCCI chief Jagmohan Dalmiya, who is currently in London to attend International Cricket Council meetings, is due back on Wednesday night.

Media reports on Tuesday quoted PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan as saying he will take India's concerns about Karachi and Peshawar into account before finalising the itinerary.

But Khan stressed both Karachi and Peshawar will not be deprived of hosting matches against the touring Indians.

"People in both cities love their cricket and are looking forward to the Indian team's visit," Khan was quoted as saying.

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Karachi, Peshawar will stage matches: PCB

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