The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Team awaits security score

Calcutta, Feb. 10: As of now, all Team India regulars are expected to make themselves available for the six-week tour of Pakistan from early March.

Moreover, despite “concerns” about security, the players are going to wait for IGP Yashovardhan Azad’s return from Pakistan before possibly making a “representation” to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

Azad, elder brother of World Cupper and national selector Kirti, left yesterday and should be back next Monday. He has been accompanied by two BCCI officials.

This is Azad’s second trip to Pakistan in a shade over a month. The last was to oversee arrangements before Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s visit to Islamabad for the Saarc summit.

“As a delegation is already in Pakistan, we will wait for its report. Thereafter, if needed, the security aspect is going to be specifically taken up with the president (Jagmohan Dalmiya),” Sourav Ganguly told The Telegraph.

The captain, who returned today after almost three months in Australia, has the “responsibility” of liaising with the BCCI.

Sourav didn’t talk at length about the concerns, but one understands no player has “indicated in as many words” that he won’t be available for India’s first full tour of Pakistan in nearly 15 years.

Even if somebody does eventually decide not to make the trip, it could even be seen as being influenced by a loss of confidence after the tri-series thrashing in Australia. Additionally, the Wasim Akrams will be encouraged to unleash more taunting remarks.

For the record, Dalmiya hasn’t heard about pullouts.

“Nobody has suggested he is going to opt out…. If somebody has something to say, or has misgivings, I’m willing to listen,” the president said.

Actually, the BCCI too is waiting for the delegation’s return. The itinerary is on hold, as is finalising the date for Team India’s selection.

Whatever, the BCCI is committed to going through with the tour. More so, as the exercise has now become entwined with the upcoming general elections.

As a source put it, “improvement in relations with Pakistan is going to be projected as an achievement by the Vajpayee government…. Reviving bilateral cricket ties is part of that….”

Like it or not, the players will be used as pawns of sorts. Not for the first time; probably not the last either.

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