NEW DELHI: Nine Pakistani players who signed up for a new field hockey league in India were withdrawn from the event after a flare-up along the border that reports suggest could also affect the women's cricket World Cup being held in the country.
None of the Pakistanis featured in the opening match of the Hockey India League (HIL) in New Delhi on Monday and officials said they will not take part in the entire four-week event.
“Due to extraordinary circumstances, it has been decided to send the nine Pakistan players home,” Hockey India chief and the league's main organiser Narinder Batra told reporters in New Delhi.
Trouble began on Sunday in Mumbai when the city’s franchise, which had enrolled four Pakistanis, was forced to cancel a practice session after protests from the right-wing nationalist Shiv Sena party.
The entire squad, coached by Australian Ric Charlesworth, shifted base to New Delhi as league organisers speculated if Mumbai could host the six matches allotted to it, the first one scheduled for January 20.
Tensions between India and Pakistan were heightened last week by a series of cross-border exchanges in disputed Kashmir in which four soldiers were killed.
Meanwhile, media reports on Tuesday said some of women's cricket World Cup matches, scheduled to be played in Mumbai from January 31 to February 17, could be shifted due to Pakistan's participation.
The Pakistani women are due to play three matches in the preliminary league of the eight-nation event and at least another four if they advance to the second round.
India’s Zee News said in a report, “with growing unease in the city with regard to Pakistani sportspersons, the BCCI has chosen Ahmedabad as an alternate venue for the Pakistan matches.”
“We have decided to write to the ICC to explain the situation here. After that, they will take a call on whether to change the venue or persist with it,” a top BCCI official said after the Board's Working Committee meeting here on Tuesday.
There was no immediate comment from the International Cricket Council on the report.