India

World Twenty20 2016: India-Pakistan venue changed to Kolkata

Pakistan cricketer Umar Akmal plays a shot during the Asia Cup T20 cricket tournament match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A security assessment team from Pakistan arrived in India on Tuesday and submitted a report

The venue of India and Pakistan's World T20 group match has been changed from Dharamsala to Kolkata (Calcutta) due to security concerns, organisers say.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) said the decision was taken after talks with Indian and Pakistani authorities.

The ICC said there were fears crowds hostile to Pakistan might try to disrupt the 19 March match.

Pakistan welcomed the move but sought more security guarantees before sending its team to India.

A Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) statement said: "The PCB has also today conveyed to ICC and BCCI [Board of Control for Cricket in India] that our government is expecting an assurance to Pakistan against specific threats to the Pakistan team from various political parties and groups during the tour."

ICC chief executive David Richardson told media that "the safety and security of the event is of paramount importance to the ICC".

"I would like to confirm that the ICC has been assured by all relevant state authorities that all adequate security measure are in place and will be implemented to ensure that the event is staged in a safe and secure environment for all stakeholders," he said.

Mr Richardson added that ticket holders for the Dharamsala match in northern Himachal Pradesh state would get either a full refund or a ticket to watch the game in Kolkata.

A Pakistani security team was sent to India on Tuesday to assess the situation at the original venue.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The chief minister of Himachal Pradesh had refused to guarantee security for the team

Indian media reports said that there had been local opposition to the game being played in Dharamsala since the area was home to some of the soldiers who died in a militant attack on the Pathankot air-force base near the Pakistan border.

India has blamed Pakistan-based militants for the attack.

The state chief minister had refused to guarantee security for the visiting cricket team, despite an assurance by the federal government.

Pakistan-India cricket matches are always keenly anticipated games. The two teams have played six T20 matches against one other.

There has been no full series since 2007 because of diplomatic tensions. The neighbours have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947.

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