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Pak scan on cricket venue

Guwahati, Sept. 21: Two members of the Pakistan Cricket Board will arrive in the Assam capital tomorrow to assess the arrangements — primarily security — for the November 5 Indo-Pak face-off at Nehru Stadium.

Zakir Khan and S. Khan will visit the stadium and the recommended hotels along with the cricket operations manager of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, Suru Nayak. They will be particularly eager to know about the security arrangements, given the presence in Assam of fundamentalist groups against which Pakistan has declared war.

Sources said security would be of the highest level for the Pakistani cricketers as well as at the venue of the match. Nehru Stadium witnessed crowd violence during the abandoned India-England One-day International on April 9 last year.

After that fracas, the International Cricket Council conveyed to the Assam Cricket Association (ACA) through the BCCI that the entrances to the galleries of the stadium must be widened to prevent stampedes. The condition of the venue, however, remains much the same.

The stadium is under the jurisdiction of the Board of Sports of Assam, headed by chief minister Tarun Gogoi.

Sources in the ACA said repeated requests to the Board of Sports to make the changes elicited no response.

The ACA has listed three hotels — Hotel Brahmaputra Ashok, Landmark Hotels and Hotel Nakshatra — as the best choices of accommodation for the Indian and Pakistani teams. Hotel Brahmaputra Ashok and Landmark Hotels have hosted international teams on earlier occasions.

Security agencies have reservations about Hotel Nakshatra because of its location. The hotel is in Beltola, which is quite a distance from the stadium. If the cricketers do stay there, it will entail travelling through the heart of the crowded city.

Based on the suggestions of security experts, the ACA has decided to have a smaller organising committee and sub-committees than usual. The idea is to restrict access to the cricketers and minimise the security risks.

The organising committee will have senior members of the association and representatives of its governing body along with three representatives with good credentials from the affiliated district units.

The practice so far has been to include at least 10 members from every district in the committees.

“Members of the district units will have to establish their credentials as sports organisers to be inducted into the organising committee or the sub-committees,” ACA secretary Bikash Baruah said.

The ACA has 34 affiliated units and a 27-member governing body.

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