ADCCB may have to content with veteran's tie

Published: Friday, April 30, 2004, 17:42 [IST]
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New Delhi:India's refusal to play ball has ruined Abu Dhabi's plans to inaugurate their state-of-the-art cricket stadium with a high-profile match against Pakistan next month.

India's cricket boss Jagmohan Dalmiya not only declined to release top stars for the 100,000-dollar exhibition game at the plush Zayed cricket stadium on May 14, but also refused to meet his Abu Dhabi counterpart B R Shetty, camping in India for the last three days.

A frustated Shetty said on Friday that he could be forced to convert the tie into a veterans' match if the top Indian cricketers were not granted permission.

"I tried speaking to Dalmiya after coming here, but he refused to speak to me on the matter," said Shetty.

"I am still hopeful the match will go ahead, but let's see who takes part."

Cancellation would prove embarrassing at the highest level in the UAE capital where Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak al-Nahyan, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Cricket Control Board (ADCCB), had himself announced the game.

Sheikh Nahyan is minister for higher education and a favoured son of UAE President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan.

ADCCB secretary Ravi Pandit, who is accompanying Shetty to India, said that only four Indian cricketers had signed up for the match.

"We met during the Rawalpindi Test (between India and Pakistan) earlier this month and four Indian players gave us a confirmation along with 14 Pakistan cricketers," Pandit told The Indian Express newspaper.

"So we thought everything was confirmed and that's why we held the press conference in Abu Dhabi to announce the match."

Dalmiya was adamant the Indian players would not go to Abu Dhabi.

"I don't know anything about this and I don't have any appointment with Abu Dhabi officials," he said.

"There won't be any match."

Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Karunakaran Nair said the match was not sanctioned because no official application had been made by Abu Dhabi.

"Everyone wants to hold India-Pakistan matches, it's good for everyone but we have to regulate these things," Nair told The Indian Express.

"We need to see what is the motive behind the match. We need to know all this and in good time. We just can't grant permission like that, afterwards we will be held responsible."

Skipper Sourav Ganguly, who was billed to lead a near full-strength team against a Pakistan side captained by Inzamam-ul-Haq, was quoted recently as saying he was unaware of the match.

India have not played official cricket in the UAE since March, 2000 after a directive from the Government to avoid off-shore venues like Abu Dhabi's neighbouring emirate, Sharjah, following a match-fixing scandal.

India and Pakistan resumed bilateral cricket ties this year with the recent Test and One-day series in Pakistan, but the Indian Government is yet to officially lift its ban on venues like Sharjah.

Abu Dhabi officials have stressed that the 50-overs-a-side match next month was not an official One-day International.

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