After a lot of deliberation, the Pakistani women cricket team's World Cup matches were shifted to Odisha, bringing an end to the uncertainty over the fate of the team's participation following the killing of two Indian soldiers.
Despite no formal announcement yet from the BCCI or the International Cricket Council on this, Suru Naik, the tournament director said that all the matches of Group B (which has Pakistan) will be shifted to Cuttack
"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.
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 other venues are 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. The Pakistan women's team is scheduled to arrive on January 26.
Pak hockey players sent back
The simmering tension on the Indo-Pak border spilled over to the sporting arena with a rattled Hockey India sending back all the nine Pakistani players taking part in its high-profile league following protests over the killing of Indian soldiers.
After protests by Shiv Sena and other right-wing organisations disrupted the training and the first match of the league, Hockey India took the decision to send back the Pakistani players considering the "extra-ordinary circumstances".
"After discussion with all the stakeholders, the Hockey India and Pakistan Hockey Federation have mutually decided to send them (Pakistan players) back due to an extra-ordinary situation which has arisen," Hockey India secretary general Narinder Batra said.
"We kept all stakeholders the franchises, PHF and HI in the loop during these discussions. We took all on board before making this decision. All have approved this decision. The contract money for 2013 will be paid in full to the Pakistani players and HI stands committed in guaranteeing the same.
"We and PHF have mutually decided to release the players so that they do not feel the mental stress and their performance is not affected," Batra added.
Batra said that the franchises, who had to release the Pakistani players, were free to seek their replacements. "We will give the right to franchises which own Pakistani players that they can ask for replacements. They can select from the reserve pool within their allocated budget," Batra said.
HI had initially decided to send back the Pakistani players of Mumbai Magicians franchise only but fearing that the league could be affected by disruptions, it took the decision to send back all the players. (
PHF optimistic about hockey
Dropcap OnMeanwhile in Karachi, PHF President Qasim Zia is hoping that the upcoming bilateral hockey series between India and Pakistan would not be affected despite fresh tension between the two countries.
Nine Pakistan hockey players were barred from participating in Hockey India League and sent back due to the simmering tension at the border, where Pakistan violated ceasefire.
Indian hockey team is scheduled to play a bilateral series in March. Zia, however, hoped that things would cool down in the next few days. "I am hopeful that hockey relations between the two countries will remain normal and the bilateral series we have planned in March will be held on schedule in India and Pakistan," Zia said.
But the PHF chief conceded that when it came to Indo-Pak relations nothing could be said for certain.
"Until few days back everything was okay. Our cricket team also went there and came back without any problems. Our hockey players also got visas. But now situation is different I am hopeful it will normalise soon," he said.