The India-Pakistan World T20 match on March 19 has been moved to Eden Gardens in Kolkata, India because of security concerns over the original venue Dharamsala. The ICC chief executive David Richardson made the announcement in Delhi this morning, ending weeks of uncertainty over the fixture, which began with the Himachal Pradesh chief minister saying his government would not be able to provide adequate security for the match.
The PCB, however, has continued to delay the departure of the Pakistan men’s and women’s cricket teams to India pending assurance from the BCCI or the Indian government. “The PCB has also today conveyed to 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,” the board said in a release. “Pending this assurance and in accordance with the recommendation by the security delegation, the PCB has decided to defer the departure of Pakistan men and women teams to India.”
“The decision to relocate the match has been made for security reasons,” Richardson said in Delhi. “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.
“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.
“As far as those who have purchased tickets online for the match, they will be offered the choice of a full refund or the opportunity to exchange their tickets for ones for the Kolkata match.
“Finally, I would like to confirm that the ICC has been assured by all relevant state authorities that all adequate security measure are in place and will be implemented to ensure that the event is staged in a safe and secure environment for all stakeholders.”
Though the PCB had always expressed reservations about playing in Dharamsala once the issue began, the BCCI and the ICC remained confident the game would go ahead as planned. However, the problems came to a head this week after a three-man security delegation from Pakistan inspected the venue and was unhappy with the preparations. Their report to the PCB on Tuesday recommended that Pakistan not play at the venue, and the ICC announced the change in venue the next day.