Karachi – Pakistan have delayed their departure to India for the World Twenty20 as they await security clearance from the country’s interior ministry, the head of the Pakistan Cricket Board said Wednesday.
Pakistan’s captain Shahid Afridi (C-R) congratulates India’s captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (C-L) at the end of the Asia Cup T20 cricket tournament match between India and Pakistan at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka on February 27, 2016 © AFP/File Munir Uz Zaman
PCB chairman Shahryar Khan said the team had been due to leave for Kolkata en route to New Delhi at noon on Wednesday, but the departure had been put on hold.
“We are awaiting the green light from interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who will assess a security delegation report and will let us know about the plan,” Khan told media.
Pakistan sent a security assessment team to India on Monday after voicing repeated concerns about arrangements following extremist threats.
Khan said the departure of Pakistan’s women’s team was also on hold pending clearance. It was unclear how long the delay would be.
The first round of the World Twenty20 started on Tuesday. The top eight-ranked nations, including Pakistan, will join the competition from the “Super 10” stage which begins on March 15.
Pakistan are due to play their opening match against a first-round qualifier in Kolkata on March 16.
They are due to meet India in a high-voltage game on March 19 in the hill resort of Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh state, where locals have objected to the staging of the match.
Last week state chief minister Virbhadra Singh caused a stir by refusing to provide security for the game, prompting the PCB to demand the match be shifted to a new venue.
The South Asian adversaries have not played a full bilateral series since 2007 due to diplomatic tensions.
Khan said the team’s security was his primary concern.
“We have to make sure that our team is secure and that is why we have taken all steps,” he said.
But a Pakistan team member told AFP that the situation is disturbing for players.
“We are on hold and don’t know when we will go,” said the player, who asked not to be named.
“Our families are also disturbed and hope that the tour goes on smoothly.”