The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pak cover against call-off

Lahore, Feb. 26: Hosts Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) today agreed on a memorandum of understanding which calls for restraint in reacting to any possible on-field “incident” during Team India’s tour from March 10.

The final document, one understands, differs appreciably from the draft forwarded by the BCCI. Apparently, the most significant change centres on the response of the boards to an untoward happening during any of the five ODIs and three Tests.

The BCCI, it is gathered, had taken a hard line which almost amounted to abandoning the tour if even one missile struck an Indian. Moreover, there was a suggestion that the final say on security wouldn’t entirely rest with the hosts. The PCB got both points amended before chief executive Rameez Raja faxed his consent.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, the PCB emphasised:

That the reaction to an incident anywhere “shouldn’t be emotional” as the tour isn’t just going to be about cricket — in fact, it’s part of the confidence-building measures initiated by Islamabad and New Delhi. Basically, nothing ought to be done in haste as the repercussions will be heavy.

That the final word on security would rest with the officers assigned by the government of Pakistan — specifically, the likes of SSP Sohail Khan, who is expected to travel with Sourav Ganguly’s team throughout the 40 days. The Indians’ own security detail, comprising three officers, is largely going to liaise with the Khans only.

“Look, the PCB is as concerned about the safety of the Indian players as the Indians themselves. God forbid if something unforeseen does happen, the BCCI shouldn’t respond emotionally.... The situation will have to be dealt with restraint. Like it or not, so much is at stake. Again, like it or not, the two governments are as involved with the tour as the boards,” explained a well-placed source.

[Significantly, the slogan scripted by Test and ODI sponsors Samsung — Jeet lo dil — perfectly mirrors the underlying sentiment and objective.]

The source added: “Thankfully, the role of the Indian security personnel has been clarified. After all, duplication or, worse, confusion over who is to do what couldn’t be risked. On such a sensitive issue, the chain of command has to be clear. In any case, India must have confidence in our security. As promised by the President himself, the level of protection is going to exceed that given to heads of state.”

Even if “foolproof” security simply can’t be guaranteed — by anybody anywhere — the establishment is at least trying to ensure the maximum possible.

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