The International Cricket Council (ICC) has changed the venue of a much-awaited Pakistan-India World Twenty20 clash from Dharamsala to Kolkata over security concerns, the top executive of cricket’s governing body announced Wednesday.
“The decision to relocate the match has been made for security reasons,” ICC CEO Dave Richardson said at a hurriedly called press conference in New Delhi.
“I would like to confirm that the ICC has been assured by all relevant state authorities that all adequate security measure are in place and will be implemented to ensure that the event is staged in a safe and secure environment for all stakeholders,” he said.
The announcement came as Pakistan’s interior ministry said it would not send its team to participate in the WT20 tournament until the Indian government gives an assurance of complete security to its players.
The security concerns arose after the Chief Minister of Hamachal Pradesh warned of demonstrations and attempts to disrupt the peaceful conduct of the match in Dharamsala.
“The decision was not taken lightly. The ICC and the BCCI understand the disappointment that is likely to be felt by many over the decision to move the match. But the safety and security of the event is of paramount importance to the ICC and we have taken into consideration the concerns shared with us by our security advisors as well as Pakistan Cricket Board,” said Richardson.
The ICC CEO said that the decision to shift the venue of the match has been conveyed to the Pakistan Cricket Board.
But, in a statement issued earlier today, the interior ministry said Pakistan would not send its team to participate in the tournament until a senior functionary of the Indian government gives a written assurance of complete and satisfactory provision of security to the Pakistani players and team management in the neighbouring country.
The ministry issued the statement after receiving a report from a three-man Pakistan delegation that ‘security is not assured’ at the venue of the March 19 match. The PCB sent the delegation of officials to check security at the venues in neighbouring India earlier this week, with the Dharamsala venue for their clash against India of particular concern.
Sources say that the Indian government is expected to send a written assurance of security to the Pakistani government later today, after which Pakistan will decide whether it sends its team to participate in the tournament or not.
If the Pakistan team agrees to participate in the tournament, it will play its first match on March 16. Pakistan and India are expected to face each other in a match scheduled to take place on March 19.
The tournament opened on Tuesday with qualifying matches before the main draw begins on March 15. The final will be held at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on April 3.