KARACHI: Owing to security concerns, the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Wednesday moved the venue for India-Pakistan World T20 match to Kolkata from Dharamsala, which is scheduled to take place on March 19.
The ICC made a formal announcement at a hurriedly convened press conference in New Delhi.
“The decision has been taken to relocate the India-Pakistan match from Dharamsala to Kolkata for security reasons,” chief executive of the cricket’s governing body, David Richardson, told reporters.
“The bottom line is … security is paramount and it’s a difficult decision, not one that we wanted to make because we wanted to stick with the original plan but one we’ve been forced into.”
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) now awaits the Government of Pakistan’s approval to send its team to participate in the tournament.
The development comes after the PCB put on hold the departure of its men and women’s teams for the World T20, asking for the match to be re-located due to security reasons.
The Associated Press on Wednesday quoted a PCB official as saying that the ICC had been asked to consider Kolkata or Mohali as alternate venues for the March 19 match against the tournament hosts.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak publicly on the subject.
The Pakistan squad had been scheduled to travel to Kolkata on Wednesday for its opening group match on March 16.
A Pakistan security delegation visited Dharamsala on Monday, prompting the call for a venue change.
The fate of the match between India and Pakistan became uncertain after Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh wrote to the Home Ministry stating that the state government cannot provide security for the game in the wake of the recent terror attack on the Pathankot air base.
However, in an interesting turn of events today, Singh retracted his earlier statement and said that Dharamsala can still host the match.
“If there are any protests, we will ensure to keep them away from the venue,” the Himachal Pradesh chief minister told Indian media.
Earlier, Richardson also said that the ICC was closely monitoring the situation in relation to the India-Pakistan match.
“The speculation and uncertainty around venues are created by factors beyond our control. Because they have a reason in recent times, we find ourselves having to deal with it very close to the event which is not ideal but unfortunately we can’t ignore them and we’re dealing with it as best as we can,” he had said.
The first round of the World T20 started on Tuesday. The top eight-ranked nations, including Pakistan, will join the competition from the “Super 10” stage which begins on March 15.
Pakistan is due to play their opening match against a first-round qualifier in Kolkata on March 16.
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