NEW DELHI, Feb 22, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – India on Friday demanded “robust” security for its players and fans at this year’s cricket World Cup in England, but pulled back from a boycott of its match against Pakistan despite escalating tensions.
Calls have been made in India for the country to pull out of their June 16 World Cup match against Pakistan to protest the suicide bomb attack in Kashmir last week which killed 40 paramilitary troops.
The attack was claimed by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group, which India says operates as a proxy for Islamabad, a charge Pakistan denies.
Vinod Rai, a senior official of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), told reporters they had sent a letter to the International Cricket Council demanding tough security at the World Cup and for the world body to sever ties with nations linked to terrorism.
But he said a decision on boycotting the one-day international would only be made nearer the date — and after consulting the government.
“The BCCI trusts… the most robust security is provided to players, match officials and fans of Indian cricket for the upcoming World Cup,” the letter said.
While Pakistan has denied any role in the Kashmir attack, the BCCI said it “urges the cricketing community to sever ties with countries from which terrorism emanates”.
Senior cricket figures such as former India captain Sourav Ganguly and spin star Harbhajan Singh have called for the country to boycott the game.
But Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar said a boycott would be like a defeat to Pakistan.
“India has always come up trumps against Pakistan in the World Cup. Time to beat them once again. Would personally hate to give them two points and help them in the tournament,” Tendulkar said on Twitter.
Interest in the India-Pakistan game in Manchester is so high that demand for tickets has outstripped that for the World Cup final, according to ICC officials.
The World Cup begins on May 30.