Calcutta, Aug. 14: Till late tonight, there was no move for Team India to return from Sri Lanka, after the murderous blast in an upmarket area of Colombo, but the “situation” is being monitored.
The blast, apparently triggered by a claymore mine as Pakistan’s high commissioner Basheer Wali Mohammed was passing by the Liberty Plaza roundabout in the afternoon, claimed at least seven lives.
“We haven’t looked at the possibility of the team going back, but will see how the situation evolves. Our priority has been to ensure that security is at an absolute fool-proof level,” India’s high commissioner Nirupama Rao told The Telegraph.
Speaking from Colombo this evening, she added: “The capital is on a high alert and my officials have thoroughly briefed (coach) Greg Chappell and the manager (Sanjay Jagdale). The team has been advised minimum movement.”
Asked whether Rahul Dravid and Co. are going to attend the Independence Day flag-hoisting in India House, Rao said: “The team has been invited and the Indian community is looking forward to meeting them. Security considerations, though, come first.”
Technically, the tri-series is on. However, tomorrow morning’s meeting between top Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) officials and the managements of the visiting teams — India and South Africa — may determine whether the tournament actually stays on track.
“Everybody wanted time to review developments and SLC has promised it will be transparent and convey everything communicated to it by the government,” Jagdale said.
He added that the meeting would be held at the Taj Samudra, which is hosting the Indians (and the home team). While the Taj is less than 3 km from the Liberty Plaza, the South Africans’ hotel is even closer.
The South Africans, one understands, have very strong reservations about staying on and there has been talk of an immediate departure.
Nobody has gone on record, though.
“Look, we’ve assured maximum security and, as of now, the tri-series is on…. The visiting teams are going to get an update in the morning,” said SLC chief executive Duleep Mendis.
The opener (between Sri Lanka and South Africa) got rained off today.
The Indians, incidentally, were at their hotel when the blast occurred.
“We were getting ready for a practice session. Shortly afterwards, we were told it had been cancelled,” senior pro Yuvraj Singh pointed out.
The Liberty Plaza is, of course, frequented by tourists — both during the day and night.
The market there closes around 9 pm (except, perhaps, a departmental store), but one of Colombo’s hottest nightclubs is in its vicinity.