Pakistan team may leave for World T20 on Friday

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Lahore, March 10 (IANS) Pakistan has, after some dithering on security issues, reportedly given permission to its cricket team to travel to India to participate in the World T20 tournament.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Wednesday shifted the venue of the crunch group stage Pakistan-India match from Dhramsala in Himachal Pradesh to Kolkata, on security considerations.

The match, scheduled to be played on March 19, had to be shifted after serving and retired Indian Army personnel and political leaders in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh opposed it since Kangra district — where Dharamsala is situated — is home to a large number of martyrs’ families.

The Pakistan team is likely to depart for the tournament in the early hours of Friday via Dubai despite the deadlock between the Indian and Pakistan governments on the matter of giving public assurance regarding security of the team, reports The Tribune.

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“The Pakistan team is likely to leave on Friday for Dubai and then to Kolkata to take part in the World T20,” a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) official was quoted as saying by The Express Tribune.

“But all this can change if government issues some other instructions.”

The ICC is also aware of the tentative travel itinerary, according to the report.

The national team was originally due to leave for India on Tuesday evening. But the PCB postponed the departure as it awaited the final report from its three-member security team which it had sent to review the security arrangements in Dharamsala.

Despite the change in venue, the Pakistan government wants India to state that the team and the travelling fans will be secure. The Indian government has so far refused to accede to the demand oweing to political reasons.

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PCB chairman Shahryar Khan reportedly spoke with the Pakistan players on Thursday and told them to remain focused on the game. He told the players that the current situation is similar to the conditions in 1999 when the team went on a tour of India and came back victorious.

The match faces a security threat in Kolkata as well, with the Anti-Terrorist Front of India (ATFI) threatening to dig up the pitch at Eden Gardens on Wednesday.

The ATFI has been opposed to hosting the Pakistan team until the terror masterminds behind the Mumbai, Pathankot and the recent Pampore attacks are handed over to India by Pakistan.

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