Unprecedented security greets team arrival

Published: Wednesday, December 8, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Dhaka:The 15-member Indian cricket team arrived in the Bangladeshi capital amidst unprecendented security following a death threat but captain Sourav Ganguly said the pre-tour developments would have no bearing on the performance of his players.

The team's arrival was delayed by a day following the threat which had cast a shadow of uncertainty on the tour but the Indian Government's partial go-ahead has paved the way for the first Test to get underway on Friday.

The team was received by the Bangladesh Cricket Board officials while waiting journalists were kept at a distance at the Zia International Airport which was under heavy securityalert.

Soon after landing, the Indian team was driven by bus with police escorts to the Sonargaon Hotel in central Dhaka.

Captain Ganguly said the team was focussed on the game and was not concerned about the security.

"We are not concerned with the security and we are here to play," Ganguly told reporters here.

Asked if the threat would have any influence on the tour, he said "why? No, it will not have any influence."

"We are here to play well and we are not taking Bangladesh lightly," he said.

India is scheduled to play two Test matches and three one-day internationals during their 22-day tourBesides thousands of police, elite Rapid Action Battalion and other security agencies would ensure a "fool-proof" security for the visitors, officials said.

Tight security was in place at the airport, hotel and the Bangabandhu National Stadium. Also, shops at the stadium will remain shut on the day matches are held.

"The Indians are now fully satisfied with the security measures for the Indian players," Mohammad Omar Farook, a top official at Bangladesh Home Ministry, told reporters today.

The clearance for the tour came last evening after the security experts, led by Inspector General of Police for VIP Security Yashovardhan Azad, submitted its report to theGovernment on the security arrangements in Dhaka.

The security delegation will also visit Chittagong, the other venue, to make an assessment of the threat perception there before clearing that segment.

The Indian delegation has suggested some changes which were readily accepted by Bangladesh. A militant outfit, identifying as 'Harkat-ul Zihadi', threatened to kill the Indian players if they came to Bangladesh but the authorities here dismissed the threat as ahoax and said the tour would be safe.

Bangladeshi newspapers also welcomed the decision and ticket counters opened today across the city.

"The millions of cricket-lovers in Bangladesh have had a close shave with a heart-break when they heard the news that the Indian cricket team's scheduled visit to Bangladesh hasbeen put on hold," said the editorial of the leading Daily Star newspaper.

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