The venue of India and Pakistan’s World T20 group match has been changed from Dharamsala to Kolkata (Calcutta) due to security concerns, organisers say.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) said the decision was taken after talks with Indian and Pakistani authorities.
After several days of suspense, the International Cricket Council on Wednesday confirmed that the much-anticipated clash between the arch-rivals has now been officially shifted to Kolkata amid the security concerns raised by the Pakistan Cricket Board over Dharamsala.
“A decision has been taken to relocate the India-Pakistan match from Dharamsala to Kolkata due to security reasons. The match will now be played at the same time and date (March 19, 7:30pm),” ICC Chief Executive Officer Dave Richardson said at a press conference.
“The concerns initially arose following alleged public comments recently reported by the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, warning of demonstration and attempts to disrupt the peaceful conduct of the match. Our concerns relate both to uncertainty as to the level of those threats as well as the level of commitment to implement any security plan developed to mitigate such treats,” he added.
Meanwhile, Richradson assured the fans that their money will not get wasted and they should not worry.
“The people who have bought tickets will be refunded or they can exchange them with the tickets for the Kolkata match.”
When asked if India has lost the credibility following the controversy and shifting of venue, Richardson was quick to deny the allegation.
“ICC has not lost faith in India. There are huge logistics challenges. There are 59 matches in total, across eight venues. And first time with women matches are also being held (with men’s event.)
“It is too early to take any disciplinary action against state association. If we didn’t have the match then we would have had more grounds but here we have relocated the match and it was the best option,” he said.
Pakistan team departure still on hold
A Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) statement said: “The PCB has also today conveyed to ICC and BCCI [Board of Control for Cricket in India] that our government is expecting an assurance to Pakistan against specific threats to the Pakistan team from various political parties and groups during the tour.”
PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan welcomed the ICC’s decision to shift the venue but kept the Pakistan team’s departure on hold awaiting an assurance from the Indian government.
“Both men and women teams [departure] have been deferred. I have also informed this to the government because it has asked for my opinion,” he said at a press conference.
“Pakistan government has not talked with the Indian government. This threat is on us so the PCB has talked with the Indian government. It is the PCB that is raising this issue with the BCCI, ICC and the government of India that this assurance should be given by India. We have not given any deadline.”