M A I N   N E W S

Pak tour from March 10
No Tests in Karachi, Peshawar, 1st one-dayer on March 13

Kolkata, February 21
Accompanied by security officials, the Indian cricket team will embark on a much-awaited 40-day tour of Pakistan on March 10 to play three Tests and five one-dayers, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced here today ending days of suspense over the schedule of the historic visit.

Trouble-prone venues of Karachi and Peshawar, where the Indians had reservations playing Test matches due to security concerns, would not be staging any Test with Multan, Lahore and Rawalpindi getting the nod to stage the three matches of the series.

The tour, coming after a gap of 15 years, will kick off with a one-day warm-up game on March 11 followed by the one-day series starting at Karachi on March 13, BCCI President Jagmohan Dalmiya said at a crowded press conference here.

While Rawalpindi and Peshawar would be venues for the second and third one-dayers on March 16 and March 19, the last two matches would be played at Lahore on March 21 and 24.

Multan will stage the first Test from March 28 to April 1, Lahore from April 5 to 9 and Rawalpindi from April 13 to 17.

Dalmiya said the Indian team would be selected on March 3 at Kolkata and on March 8 the players will assemble at New Delhi where the officials of the Home Ministry and the External Affairs Ministry will brief them on the “do’s and don’ts” for the tour. A three-member Indian security team would accompany the players.

Dalmiya sprang a surprise by announcing that the one-dayers would precede the Test matches as the Pakistan Cricket Board was in favour of holding the Test series first.

“The team has come from Australia after a one-day series so it would be easier for them to adjust. We understand the importance of the elections and drew up the itinerary so that there is minimum interference with the election process,” he said trying to justify the decision to play the one-dayers first.

Dalmiya said the Indian team would play day-and-night matches at Lahore and Rawalpindi. Lahore would also host the one-day practice match on March 11.

The team will return to India on April 18, he said. Dalmiya said visa rules would be relaxed to enable Indian cricket lovers to visit Pakistan for the series.

“Both the governments are working out details to make the visa procedures easier for the fans wishing to visit Pakistan.”

The board chief said the BCCI took into consideration the recommendations of the Home Ministry while finalising the itinerary for the historic tour.

“As desired by the Home Ministry security officials would accompany the team to Pakistan. But their job would be limited to co-ordination and liaison only.”

Dalmiya also said the Indian players can take their families with them from the beginning of the tour although the board generally allows them to join the players in the second part of an overseas series.

On the board’s decision not to hold Test matches in Karachi and Peshawar, Dalmiya said “We regret that we could not accommodate Karachi and Peshawar in the Test series. But we hope for future tours these venues will be considered for Test matches.”

The board chief also hoped that a successful outing in Pakistan would pave way for more and more bilateral series between the two neighbours in future.

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