T20 India-Pakistan cricket match to be held in Kolkata

NEW DELHI (AP) The Eden Gardens in Kolkata has replaced Dharamsala as the venue for the high-profile World Twenty20 game between India and Pakistan on March 19 because of security concerns, the International Cricket Council announced on Wednesday.

''The decision has been taken for security reasons,'' ICC chief executive David Richardson said at a news conference. ''It's been taken following consultation with the BCCI, the relevant state associations, the ICC and the BCCI's security advisers and consultants and other relevant authorities.''

The Pakistan Cricket Board had raised its concern after Virbhadra Singh, the chief minister of the provincial government of Himachal Pradesh, said he would not be able to provide adequate security for the match in the hill city.

''Our concerns relate to both the uncertainty as the level of those threats, whether they would involve a couple of hundred people or many more, blockading roads to the stadium or attempting to damage property or get on to the field during the match.

''It was uncertainty at the level of the threat in the first place but also uncertainty as well to the commitment to implement any security plans that have been developed to mitigate those threats,'' Richardson said.

The PCB had sent a team to assess the security arrangements in Dharamsala on Monday, then asked the ICC to change the venue.

Richardson said the BCCI could not be blamed for this because the state governments take responsibility for security.

''It's unfortunate that these concerns have been raised essentially by the local government in recent times. If they had concerns like this, it would have been better if they had raised the matter earlier,'' he added.

Richardson said the decision had been conveyed to the PCB and it would now need to advise the government.

The PCB welcomed the shift of venue but said it was expecting more assurances before letting its team depart for the tournament.

''The PCB has conveyed to the ICC and BCCI that our government is expecting an assurance to Pakistan against specific threats to the Pakistan team from various political parties and groups during the tour,'' it said in a statement.

''Pending this assurance and in accordance with the recommendation by the security delegation, the PCB has decided to defer the departure of the Pakistan men's and women's teams to India,'' the statement added.

(Rizwan Ali in Islamabad contributed to this report)

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