Kashmir wants to host international matches

Published: Thursday, August 5, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Srinagar:Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed said he would request the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to allot international matches to the insurgency-wrecked region.

"I will take up with the BCCI president, Jagmohan Dalmiya, the state's demand to allot at least one match to Kashmir," he said in a statement on Wednesday.

Sayeed was reacting to a decision by the BCCI to hold two matches of India's premier first-class tournament, the Ranji Trophy, in Kashmir this season.

The matches featuring the Jammu and Kashmir team against Orissa and Himachal Pradesh, will be played at the Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium in the heart of Srinagar later this year.

A similar request from the Kashmir Government last year had drawn a positive response from Dalmiya, but he declined to set a date for playing an international match there.

"The state Government has told me the time is ripe to bring back big cricket to the valley and we may decide to host a Test match or One-day International there in the near future," Dalmiya was quoted as saying then.

"But all factors will be taken into account before that happens."

No international matches have been scheduled in Kashmir this year which features Test tours by world champions Australia and South Africa.

Pakistan are scheduled to tour India in March-April next year for three Tests and five One-day Internationals.

Kashmir's summer capital of Srinagar has hosted two One-day Internationals so far: against Clive Lloyd's West Indies in 1983 and Allan Border's Australia in 1986.

The Indian team, facing hostile crowds at the Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium, lost both matches.

The full-throated support the West Indians received in 1983 prompted Lloyd to wonder if the match had been played in the Caribbean rather than in India.

The last domestic first-class match played in Srinagar was in October 1989, just before insurgency began in the Valley against New Delhi's rule in India's sole Muslim-majority state.

Sayeed's state Government has pushed for holding sporting events in the valley and three golf tournaments featuring the country's top stars were staged successfully in the last 12 months.

India accuses Pakistan of sending guerrillas across their de facto border in Kashmir, which has been the spark of two of the three wars between the South Asian neighbours since independence from British rule in 1947.

Pakistan says it gives only moral and diplomatic support to an "indigenous" independence movement in the disputed region.

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