Kolkata set to host Indo-Pak T-20 humdinger
“We are very very happy to host India Pakistan T20 World Cup match in Kolkata. All are always welcome to our beautiful city,” West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said in a tweet.
The much anticipated match was thrown into jeopardy after Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh expressed inability to provide security for the match, prompting Pakistan to send a three-member delegation to assess the security situation.
The ICC finally announced on Wednesday the relocation of the match to the iconic Eden Gardens in Kolkata where Pakistan will be based for the initial stages of the event.
“A decision has been taken to relocate the India-Pakistan match from Dharamsala to Kolkata due to security reasons. The match will 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 said explaining the decision.
Richardson said they were not left with any other choice but to move the match out of the hill city and it was loss for Dharamsala to not host such a high-profile fixture.
“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,” the ICC CEO said.
The PCB had on Tuesday, written to Richardson asking to consider an alternative venue for the marquee match. They proposed Kolkata or Mohali as a replacement for Dharamsala.
The ICC CEO said they have conveyed the relocation of the match to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
“Our decision has been conveyed to the PCB and they would advise the government of the decision. In India, it is the state which develops the security plans and we have been given assurance by all the state associations and the security plans will be implemented,” he said.
“We have done the best possible security arrangements and if they do not come, we will have to take the legal route. It will be very unjustified,” he said.Asked if the BCCI or state association (HPCA) would face any sanction, Richardson replied in the negative.