PCB talks tough, gives ultimatum to BCCI

Published: Wednesday, February 16, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Islamabad:Pakistan's first cricket tour of India in six years could be under threat if a row over venues is not resolved within the next two days, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief said.

"With just nine days left for the tour, it might be in danger if (the venue issue is) not solved in the next 48 hours," PCB chief Shaharyar Khan said on Wednesday.

The dispute erupted after Pakistan refused to play at the riot-hit western Indian city of Ahmedabad. It has delayed the announcement of the schedule with Pakistan due to arrive in New Delhi on February 25.

Khan, speaking by telephone from the northwestern city of Mardan where he went to offer his condolences to cricketer Younis Khan over his father's death, would not elaborate on the "danger" and said he hoped it would be averted.

"The matter of venues should be solved in the next two days as we face huge problems of logistics and, above all, television rights," Khan said. "With just over a week left we are running short of time and would find it tough to complete preparations."

Pakistan are due to play three Tests and five One-day Internationals on their first full tour of India since 1999.

The two governments were expected to intervene in the venue row with Indian foreign minister Natwar Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Khurshid Kasuri likely to bring it up during their meeting in Islamabad on Wednesday, officials said.

"The two foreign ministers are also likely to discuss the matter and it would be nice if they can solve the matter," said Khan, who is also due to meet Singh during a breakfast meeting on Thursday.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Tuesday moved in to resolve the dispute, saying it was working behind the scenes to come out with a solution.

Khan blamed the BCCI for suggesting Ahmedabad, where at least 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in communal riots in 2002.

"Had the BCCI not proposed Ahmedabad as a venue the matter would not have gone this far. Now through newspapers we read that some political parties have raised this issue and with each passing day they will put more pressure," he said.

"The vast majority in Pakistan and India want the series to be held in a peaceful manner."

When asked if Pakistan would review their decision not to play in Ahmedabad, Khan refused to comment saying: "I have conveyed what I wanted to say on the matter."

The PCB has cited security concerns in Ahmedabad based on the report of a security team which visited India last month.

But Pakistan has no objections on playing in Mohali and Bangalore, the other two Test venues proposed by the BCCI.

Former greats Imran Khan and Javed Miandad, both part of the team when it played a Test in Ahmedabad, backed Pakistan's decision not to play in the volatile city.

The seven-week tour would follow India's first Test series in Pakistan in 15 years in early 2004.

Once the dates and venues are finalised, the BCCI will discuss awarding television rights for the series.

No one is absolutely certain yet as to which channel the series will be broadcast on, if at all, as a court is hearing a petition from one of the channels seeking the rights to telecast the India-Pakistan matches.

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