BCCI hopeful of staging India-Pakistan World T20 match in Dharamsala

03 Mar 2016

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Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir, right, celebrates dismissing India’s Rohit Sharma, unseen, during the Asia Cup T20 match in Dhaka on February 27, 2016. — AP
Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir, right, celebrates dismissing India’s Rohit Sharma, unseen, during the Asia Cup T20 match in Dhaka on February 27, 2016. — AP

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is optimistic that the India-Pakistan World T20 match on March 19 will go ahead as per schedule.

BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur, after a meeting with Himachal Pradesh’s chief minister Virbhadra Singh, said he was positive that the state government would not have any reservations in hosting the much-anticipated encounter.

“I am very hopeful [of the match taking place]. The meeting was held in a very positive atmosphere. The state government will also try and speak to those [families and few others] who have raised concerns.

“I am very hopeful of a positive outcome. The state government have to announce that the match is on. From the BCCI’s side, the match is on,” Thakur was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.

Earlier on Sunday, Singh said that the match should be moved to another venue out of respect for the “martyrs” killed in the assault by militants on an Indian air force base in neighbouring Punjab.

He threatened not to provide security to Pakistan’s players at the Himachal Pradesh cricket ground in the Himalayan town of Dharamsala.

“It was decided [in the meeting] that in case of a bilateral series between India and Pakistan, no matches should be held in Dharamsala,” Thakur said.

“But the venues for the World T20 were decided a year ago and to organise the match elsewhere now is almost impossible.”

“So, [BCCI] and the state government are making our best efforts to sort out the issue at the earliest. Bilateral series is a different ball game. But this is a world event and India has the honour to host the event.

“We are not hosting with any other country. India is the sole host and onus is on us to make it a successful event.”

Thakur, who heads Himachal cricket, said that the BCCI does not have an alternative plan to host the match elsewhere. “There is no ‘Plan B’. It is anyway not easy to make changes at the last moment,” he said.

The South Asian arch-rivals have not played a bilateral series for more than three years amid diplomatic tensions.

Those were worsened by the January attack on the Pathankot airbase, which came days after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's surprise peacemaking visit to Pakistan in December.

The raid led to the postponement of peace talks between the nuclear-armed arch-rivals, with Modi urging his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif to take “firm and immediate action”.