India calls off Pakistan cricket tour

Friday, December 19, 2008

India has called off its proposed cricket tour of Pakistan next year amid simmering tension between the nuclear-armed neighbours over last month's Mumbai attacks, an official said on Thursday.

"The proposed tour of the Indian cricket team to Pakistan stands cancelled,"
Rajeev Shukla, a senior official from the Board of Control for Cricket in India, told reporters.

India were scheduled to play three Tests, five one-day internationals and a Twenty20 match during the five-week tour from January 6 to February 19.

"We received a communication from the government stating that in the present circumstances, it is not feasible to tour Pakistan,"
Ratnakar Shetty, chief administrative officer of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), said, without elaborating.

He said no discussions had taken place over whether the series could instead have been played at neutral venues.

Shetty denied that the decision could wreck the next Cricket World Cup, which is meant to be jointly hosted by India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

"It will not affect the 2011 World Cup as that is a different tournament,"
he said, adding he believed that relations between the Indian and Pakistani cricket boards would not suffer due to India scrapping the tour.

But Pakistan cricket officials said they were unhappy with Thursday's announcement.

"We take this decision as disappointing -- something which will hurt Pakistan cricket badly -- but it was beyond our control,"
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ijaz Butt told a foreign news agency.

Indian Sports Minister Manohar Singh Gill had said last week he was not in favour of the team playing in Pakistan when "people from their soil were indulging in mass murder in India."

It was to have been the fifth series between the two countries since 2004, when cricket ties resumed after a 15-year gap caused by cross-border tensions.

Indian batting legend Sunil Gavaskar had said it would be "impossible" for India to tour Pakistan in the current climate.

"Diplomatically, there has been a fall-out between the two nations and I don't see why cricket won't follow suit. So at the moment it is impossible to go ahead with the tour,"
he told a television channel recently.

The tour was first put in doubt when the Indian government denied permission to the national junior hockey team to visit Pakistan.

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