The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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... PCB game for Mumbai
- Despite Shiv Sena's attempts at mischief in Mohali and Kanpur...

Calcutta: Despite the trouble-creating Shiv Sainiks surfacing yet again, Pakistan won't object even if the Ahmedabad Test is shifted to Sena stronghold Mumbai.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), it may be recalled, has formally requested the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to keep the Gujarat capital off the itinerary.

If the BCCI has its way, Ahmedabad will stage the second Test of the three-match series.

'We have faith in the Indian security agencies and don't have reservations even about Mumbai. It's just that we don't wish to play in Ahmedabad,' PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan told The Telegraph on Saturday evening.

But, then, the same agencies are guaranteeing security in Ahmedabad too. So, why the misgivings'

Speaking from his Lahore residence, Shaharyar replied: 'That's because Ahmedabad is widely seen as communally sensitive' It's a bit volatile and there's always an element of tension' That's not the case with Mumbai or any other centre.'

He added: 'Fact is, we don't want to risk the derailment of not only cricket ties but bilateral relations as a whole by playing in a city where a small incident can get out of hand, undoing all the good of last year's Revival Series (in Pakistan)'

Shaharyar, a former foreign secretary and long-serving diplomat, appeared to suggest Ahmedabad was a tinderbox.

'I'm convinced our request to the BCCI is reasonable' You have so many centres and, so, shouldn't have problems shifting that Test,' he remarked.

For the record, the BCCI has followed its rotation-policy in selecting venues.

Talking about the Sainiks' activities over the past couple of days, Shaharyar said: 'That some have attempted to damage pitches hasn't put us off' After all, their agenda was much the same before our visit in 1999' They couldn't play spoilsport, though.'

While a handful of Sainiks briefly managed to breach security at the PCA Stadium in Mohali on Thursday evening, their brethren in Kanpur were stopped outside the Green Park on Saturday afternoon.

Mohali is slated to host the first Test, with Kanpur scheduled to stage one of the five ODIs.

Shaharyar revealed the PCB had asked the BCCI to avoid 'sensitive centres' months ago itself.

'I don't wish to antagonise the BCCI, but we were surprised when Ahmedabad was chosen (last month),' he pointed out.

Shaharyar, however, remains hopeful about a settlement without acr imony. That may come about after Indian foreign minister K.Natwar Singh's visit to Islamabad early next week.

Meanwhile, with a top former bureaucrat (Moin Afzal) and a senior serving police officer (Asad Jahangir) declining to manage the team in India, the PCB has kept open the option of appointing an ex-player as manager.

Led by Inzamam-ul Haq, Paki- stan arrive in New Delhi on Febru- ary 24.

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