Bhubaneswar/Cuttack, Jan. 22: A four-member team of International Cricket Council (ICC) and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which arrived in the state capital today, expressed satisfaction with the outcome of its talks with state officials regarding preparations for the Women’s Cricket World Cup at Cuttack beginning January 31.
The delegation, accompanied by Odisha Cricket Association (OCA) president Ranjib Biswal and secretary Ashirbad Behera, had an hour-long discussion with home secretary U.N. Behera, sports secretary Injati Srinivasan and police commissioner Sunil Roy.
The Group B matches of the World Cup were shifted from Mumbai — the original venue — to Cuttack following growing clamour against Pakistan’s participation in the eight-team tournament.
However, several organisations in the state have been staging protests to oppose games with Pakistan here because of escalating tension on the Indo-Pak border. Political activists have also threatened to damage the pitches on the Barabati Stadium and Driems ground in Cuttack.
“We are satisfied with the efforts and co-operation of the state government. We discussed the arrangements required to host the event,” said chief of anti-corruption and security unit, BCCI, Ravi Sawani, who was part of the delegation that also included ICC development officer (competitions and women’s cricket) David Thorley, ICC co-ordinator Dhiraj Malhotra and BCCI-appointed tournament director Suru Nayak.
The four members, however, feigned ignorance over protests in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack against the Pakistani team’s arrival here on January 26. The other teams in Group B — New Zealand, South Africa and Australia — will reach Bhubaneswar on January 31.
Police sources said there would be heavy security deployed at the match venues and hotels where the Group B teams, especially Pakistan, put up. “From the security point of view, we are planning to accommodate the Pakistani team in Cuttack and 50 platoons of police will be pressed into service,” said a senior police officer.
Commissioner of police Sunil Roy said it was a preliminary meeting. “This was the first meeting with the officials of BCCI and ICC. We will hold discussions with our senior officials and take security arrangements accordingly,” he said.
OCA secretary Ashirbad Behera said the state government had assured them of all help to host the event in Cuttack. “This is a matter of prestige for the state. We seek the cooperation of people to make the event successful,” said Behera.
However, a handful of protestors continued to stage protests in the twin cities to oppose Pakistan’s participation. They demonstrated in front of the OCA and the police headquarters.
The Bajrang Dal has threatened to call a one-day Cuttack bandh, while others demonstrated in front of a few star hotels of Bhubaneswar, urging them not to allow Pakistani players on their property.
In another development, BJP legislature party leader and Odisha K.V. Singhdeo asked the OCA authorities to exclude his name from the seven-member organising committee constituted for peaceful hosting of the event.