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|BCCI to finalise Pak tour itinerary next week|
Thursday, February 19 2004 20:50 Hrs (IST)
The much-awaited itinerary and venues for the high-profile tour, hanging fire for some time because of uncertainties over security concerns, "is likely to be finalised early next week," BCCI sources said in Kolkata.
The sources said that BCCI, on the return of its president Jagmohan Dalmiya to the metropolis on Friday, would first take up the report of the three-member delegation which spent eight days in Pakistan last week to assess the facilities and ground realities particularly on the security front.
The BCCI, after going through the report, would send its recommendations to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) about the itinerary and venues. "The official announcement about the itinerary can be made only after both cricket Boards agree to the recommendations, which may take a few days," the sources said.
Meanwhile, the delegation, led by BCCI joint secretary Ratnakar Shetty and including senior official of the intelligence bureau Yashovardhan Azad and BCCI communication director Amrit Mathur, is believed to have recommended that Indian cricketers should not play any three-day matches during the tour, indicating a shorter trip than the originally proposed six weeks.
The BCCI delegation, which has already submitted its report to the Government, also suggested "minimum exposure" to the Indian cricket team at the two venues of Peshawar and Karachi.
The team felt that it was not appropriate to make a "detailed exposure" of the cricketers in Peshawar and Karachi because of fears of violence in the two cities.
The Government decision on the report is expected shortly. The historic tour, coming after a 14-year hiatus since the last visit of the K Srikanth led team in 1989, looked a non-starter last week after the Union Home Ministry wanted the 'sensitive series' between the arch-rivals to be pushed back to after the Lok Sabha polls slated to conclude in May.
It was after the intervention of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who convened a high level meeting on February 14, that the series finally got the nod.
The BCCI, however, has assured cricketers - some of whom reportedly had shown concerns over security matters - that no player would be forced to go on the tour.
Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly, on the other hand, on Wednesday asserted that the entire team would tour the neighbouring country for the series. "We are still concerned about security, but the Government is looking after it. We hope there will be tight security," Ganguly said adding that "everybody will be going".
The Indian team is likely to play three Tests and five One-day International matches in Pakistan.
Govt to decide on BCCI's team report shortly