Guwahati all geared up for big occasion

Published: Saturday, November 3, 2007, 3:35 [IST]
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Guwahati: Guwahati wants to bury the ghost of the last match as it prepares to host the first match of the Indo-Pakistan cricket series on Monday.

Images of a burning stadium and helicopter hovering few feet over the wicket in a futile attempt to dry the moisture during last year's Indo-England match still haunts cricket lovers across India.
''That day Guwahati razed and today everybody is after us for tickets. It is long sold out and we have done it in a most transparent manner through banks as well as affiliated district associations,'' said Bikash Barua of Assam Cricket Association(ACA).

This time the weather is fine, so is the mood but the ACA is not taking any chances. They have put out advertisement pleading to the militant group United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) not to do anything untoward during the match.

''We are pleading to everyone, the militants, youth and the students organisations to let the match go off peacefully,'' said Barua. His call came in the background of allegations that some part of the state remains under bandh of hartal call given by one or the other organisation every day.

With India having a moderate winning records on this ground where batting has always been easy, cricket fans are hoping that Mahendra Singh Dhoni's team will improve their records.

India have played eight matches here, winning four of them and losing three. One match against England was abondned last year. But they have never played against Pakistan on this ground.

Security beefed up: Top security officers are happy that the teams are reaching tomorrow (Sunday). More than security of cricketers, controlling fans is a major problem.

Massive security arrangements have been put in place for the first India-Pakistan ODI on Monday in Guwahati, with additional forces deployed to ensure complete and foolproof security.

The security concerns will keep the teams away from Guwahati till 'morrow but it has not been appreciated by most.

''There is no specific security threat to any player as of now, as per intelligence reports. But we are not leaving anything to chance,'' said Kamrup (Metro) Deputy Commissioner (DC) Avinash Joshi.

''We are also taking steps to ensure as far as possible that no anti-social element gives any communal colour to the match,'' he added, referring to the previous incidents of flare ups during India-Pak ties, especially after the recent Twenty20 World Cup final.

He said bursting of firecrackers within one-km radius of the stadium had been banned on the match day so that no tension erupts in the stadium.

On the other security arrangements, city Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Surender Kumar said, ''Seven security zones have been created, including a separate one for airport, hotels and stadium.''

He informed that six extra companies, including four from Assam Police and two from CRPF, had been deployed for the match, who will report from duty from today itself.

The hotel floors where the players will be staying will be sealed and the police will give the employees, who will come in direct contact with the players, security pass.


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