KARACHI: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has asked the International Cricket Council (ICC) to ensure foolproof security for its players if they qualify for the World Cup semifinals and final slated to be held in India. Pakistan defeated West Indies in the first quarterfinal on Wednesday and they play the winners of the last eight match between India and Australia in the semifinal at Mohali while the World Cup final will be held in Mumbai. “Given the threats made by the Shiv Sena party warning Pakistan about playing in Mumbai and also statements made by some other extremist elements, the board just wants to be sure everything is in place if the team has to play in India,” one reliable source was quoted as saying Wednesday.
He said the PCB had contacted the ICC and asked the world body to ensure that Pakistan faced no problems playing in India. India have not played Pakistan in any bilateral series since the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008. The Pakistan cricketers have also not played in the Indian Premier League after 2008. “Pakistani players have not played in India since the first edition of the IPL in early 2008, so obviously the PCB wants to be sure the players are not uncomfortable going to India,” the source said.
Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi had initially said that his team would prefer to play their quarterfinal or semifinal out of India because of the pressure involved in playing in front of the Indian crowd. Afridi later retracted his statement saying that Pakistan were willing to play at any venue including India as their main emphasis was on cricket and doing well on the field. Sources said that Pakistan foreign and interior ministries had already been in touch with their Indian counterparts to ensure proper security for the Pakistan players if they have to play in India.
“The Indians have also issued visas to around 3000 Pakistanis wishing to travel to India for the World Cup semifinal and final and obviously their security is also a concern for the Pakistan government,” the source said. The Pakistan hockey team played twice in New Delhi last year – in the World Cup and Commonwealth Games – and faced no untoward incident although some players on returning home complained of some sections of the crowd exerting lot of pressure on the players.