Pakistan women cricket team's WC matches shifted to Cuttack
Fearing protests and disruption, Pakistani women cricket team's World Cup matches were today shifted to Odisha, bringing an end to the uncertainty over the fate of the team's participation following the killing of two Indian soldiers at the border.
Although the BCCI or the International Cricket Council are yet to make an official announcement, tournament director Suru Naik confirmed that the matches will be shifted to Cuttack in Odisha.
All the teams in group B comprising New Zealand, Pakistan, Australia and South Africa will play their matches in Cuttak and a fresh schedule is being worked out. The BCCI had been looking for alternative venues ever since the tension at the Indo-Pak border escalated, forcing all the nine Pakistani hockey players taking part in the high-profile Hockey India League, to return home without playing a single match.
Originally, the entire tournament was scheduled to be held in Mumbai but fears of wide spread protests by Shiv Sena and other right-wing organisations against the Pakistan team prompted MCA to ask BCCI for an alternative venue. The eight-team Women's World Cup is scheduled to begin on January 31 and culminate on February 17.
Apart from the Barabati stadium in Cuttack, the Wankhede Stadium, Cricket Club of India's Brabourne Stadium, the Mumbai Cricket Association's (MCA) Bandra-Kurla Complex ground and the MIG Club in Bandra are the venues for the matches. As per the schedule, Pakistan team is set to arrive in India on January 26.
Asked what will happen if Pakistan make it to the knockout stage which will be held in Mumbai, Naik said, "we will take a call at a later stage."
Pakistan will open their campaign against Australia on January 31. They will play their second match against New Zealand on February 3 and the final group match against South Africa on February 5.
After Mumbai Cricket Association made it clear that it would not able to host Pakistan matches, BCCI had approached the Gujarat Cricket Association to host the matches in Ahmedabad.
GCA also expressed its inability to host the matches, prompting the Board to explore the other options. Odisha Cricket Association then volunteered to stage the matches and was also seen as a safe venue for the Pakistani cricketers.