Shahid Afridi, Pakistan T20 captain
PAKISTAN’S Interior Ministry has cleared the national cricket team to travel to India for the World Twenty20 following concerns about player safety, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said on Friday (March 11).
Pakistan had earlier said its men’s and women’s teams would travel to India only after New Delhi gave a public guarantee on the safety of its players.
“The interior minister has given permission to send the Pakistan cricket team to play the Twenty20 on the basis of solid assurances received from chief minister of West Bengal and the… union home secretary and the home minister (in India),” PCB executive committee chairman Najam Sethi told reporters.
“The team is completely ready and hopefully they will fly to Dubai tonight and then from there will leave straight for India,” Sethi added.
The March 19 clash between India and Pakistan has already been shifted to Kolkata in the state of West Bengal, following Pakistan’s security concerns over the original venue Dharamsala.
India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Friday (March 11) Pakistan should not worry about their players’ safety.
“Why only Pakistan? Whoever comes here, India provides them security. There is no reason to be worried about security here,” Singh told reporters in New Delhi.
PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan told reporters in Lahore that the players were given the pullout option if they felt any security threat but all 15 squad members wanted to play in the tournament.
“We want cricketing ties to remain active…Our hope is that our cricketing relations (between India and Pakistan) remain intact,” Khan said.
Former champions Pakistan, who lost to India in the final of the inaugural World Twenty20 in 2007, begin their campaign with on March 16 against a qualifying team in Kolkata.