Television

BCCI is only looking at Pakistan tour, not elections: Dalmiya

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NEW DELHI: Amid mounting doubts whether India's cricket tour of Pakistan will take place or not, Indian cricket board chief Jagmohan Dalmiya is keeping his fingers tightly crossed.



Dalmiya told IANS in a telephonic interview from Kolkata that he would not be able to say anything with certainty until an Indian delegation now in Pakistan returned after studying the security situation there.



"The itinerary and other things would be decided only after the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) team is back from Pakistan," Dalmiya said.



He was reacting to reports that the Indian home ministry is having second thoughts about the tour - some officials are suggesting that it be postponed until after the Indian general elections.



The home ministry, it is being said, may even suggest to the BCCI to go for a curtailed tour of Pakistan involving, perhaps, only Test matches.



Earlier, speaking to IANS in Kolkata, Dalmiya dismissed as "rumour" reports that the Indian team's tour of Pakistan was being called off because of security concerns.



"I've no news that the tour to Pakistan could be cancelled for whatever reason. There is a lot of rumour going around," Dalmiya said.



"So far as we know, there is no reason to think there would be any change in the tentative schedule of the tour."



Referring to the reports of India possibly calling or putting off the Pakistan tour, Dalmiya said: "All these are hypothetical situations. There will be day-to-day developments, so I can't say anything now."



India are scheduled to play three Tests and five one-day internationals besides a three-day warm-up match on their first full-fledged tour of Pakistan in over 14 years expected to start in the second week of March and extend to April.



The inspection team in Pakistan is led by BCCI joint secretary Ratnakar Shetty and includes communications director Amrit Mathur and the inspector general (VIP security) in the home ministry, Yashovardhan Azad, a government nominee.



They would take stock of the security and other arrangements made at the six proposed venues by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), including Karachi and Peshawar, two cities that have a history of violence attributed to extremist groups.



Due to violence, teams touring Pakistan in recent years have either cancelled the series, or abruptly ended them or had them rescheduled in a neutral country, leaving PCB in the red.



The PCB hopes to make about $20 million from the India series, and it is desperate to make that money.



"I am not even contacting them (BCCI team) in Pakistan. Everything will be discussed after they return in two or four days," said Dalmiya.



He refused to go into details about security issues.



"I am only the president of the cricket board," Dalmiya said. "Our job is simple: look after cricket."



And in a crucial remark, he added: "The situation would change every two hours."



Pakistani authorities have promised to provide foolproof security to the Indian team.



A former president of the International Cricket Council (ICC), Dalmiya said the BCCI was also taking "cognisance" of a possible clash of the match dates with Indian elections.



Indian politicians have already started demanding that there should be no polling on the days India and Pakistan play - assuming the tour does take place.



Dalmiya also declined to say when the Indian team would be announced.



"You are asking about steps No. 4, 5 and 6... This is a step that would be taken subsequently," he said.



Media reports have been speculating about the fate of the Pakistan tour, with many newspapers reporting that the Indian government was divided over the issue of sending the Indian team because of security fears.



Top Indian cricketers, including skipper Sourav Ganguly, have said they were "concerned" about the tour but would not hesitate from travelling to Pakistan if security was foolproof.

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