The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pak worry, not about Mohali

Islamabad, Feb. 11: Pakistan is not too concerned over yesterday's attack on the Mohali pitch but the decision on playing at Ahmedabad may at least have to wait until Indian foreign minister K. Natwar Singh's visit next week.

Shaharyar Khan, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman, has said he hoped the question would be settled when Singh is here on February 15 and 16.

Sources in the PCB said the decision was now entirely in the hands of the two governments. But South Block washed its hands of the matter, saying it would not be discussed at the political level.

In the context of the Mohali incident, when some alleged Shiv Sena activists tried to dig up the pitch, the board said: 'We hope that the problems, particularly those relating to the security of our cricket team will be resolved amicably.'

Fresh worries were, however, raised by the Punjab Cricket Association, the administrator for the Mohali ground, which said the attempt should serve as an alert for other centres hosting the Pakistan team.

Led by Inzamam-ul-Haq, who was assured by the board today that he would be the captain on the tour and serve the full term, Pakistan will play three Tests, one at Ahmedabad, and five one-day matches starting February 25.

'It (the incident) is not sufficient to cause tension but we have cautioned the BCCI (the Indian board) to alert other centres as there is a criminal conspiracy behind the incident,' I.S. Bindra, the Punjab association president, said.

The association said no damage had been caused to the pitch. Journalists, who had not been allowed into the ground yesterday, were today permitted access up to a point.

After interrogating the six persons arrested for the attack, police were holding Shiv Sena northern region chief Jai Bhagwan Goyal responsible for the conspiracy.

Speaking in Lahore, Khan said the PCB was not daunted by 'threats' made by radical Hindu organisations. 'The Indian government has assured security to the Pakistani players,' said Khan, who counts Singh among his friends.

'If the matter of the venues is not decided properly, it will have an impact on our bilateral relations. So I met foreign office officials and they have taken note and will interact at the government level and decide,' Khan was quoted as saying in a newspaper.

'Cricket is followed like a passion in both the countries and that's why we want to avoid any mishap. We feel for the people of Ahmedabad and we hope India will listen to our stance.'

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