BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur on Thursday said he is hopeful of the Himachal Pradesh government giving the go ahead for the World Twenty20 match between India and Pakistan in Dharamsala following a meeting with state Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh.
Thakur said he expects the March 19 match to go ahead as scheduled despite the Himachal government stating that it does not want to host the game.
“I am very hopeful (of the match taking place). The meeting (with CM yesterday) was held in a very positive atmosphere. The state government will also try and speak to those (families and few others) who have raised concerns. I am very hopeful of a positive outcome. The state government have to announce that the match is on. From the BCCI’s side, the match is on,” Thakur said in New Delhi.
Himachal Pradesh Virbhadra Singh had earlier expressed inability to provide security for the marquee clash in the wake of objections raised by the Kangra-based families of martyrs and ex-servicemen, who consider hosting Pakistan as an “insult” to the soldiers who lost their lives in Pathankot airbase terror attack in January.
The BJP MP further said a decision was taken that any bilateral match between India and Pakistan will not be held in Dharamsala but the World T20 game must take place as the state and country’s image is at stake.
“It was decided (in the meeting) that in case of a bilateral series between India and Pakistan, no matches should be held in Dharamsala. But the venues for the World T20 were decided a year ago and to organise the match elsewhere now is almost impossible. So we (BCCI) and the state government are making our best efforts to sort out the issue at the earliest.
“Bilateral series is a different ball game. But this is is a world event and India has the honour to host the event. We are not hosting with any other country. India is the sole host and onus is on us to make it a successful event,” he said.
Asked about the objections raised by families of martyrs post the Pathankot attack, Thakur said: “We all condemn the Pathankot attack. But at the same time, we can’t bring politics to sports.
“We have the utmost respect for our martyred soldiers and their families but some of the people (mainly politicians) who are objecting to the game are same people who let Pakistan play in Dharamsala post Kargil War. In 2005, these same people were seen with the Pakistani players,” said the BCCI secretary, who is also heading Himachal cricket.
He said the BCCI doesn’t have a Plan B if the match is not allowed to take place.
“There is no Plan B. It is anyway not easy to make changes at the last moment,” said Thakur.
He said the Chief Minister has assured that there is enough security personnel in the state for the big match.
“I asked the CM that if there is a shortage of security personnel in HP, you can also take the help of central government. But he has assured that the state has enough policemen to provide security,” Thakur added.