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India confident cricket can overcome attacks

December 03, 2008 11:23 IST

Terror attacks in India's financial capital Mumbai have triggered security concerns in cricket's global commercial hub although officials are hopeful the game will not suffer any lasting damage.

The three-day rampage by Islamist militants killed 183 people and, with the death of 22 foreigners, has shaken global confidence in India as a safe destination.

The first event to suffer was a one-day series with England, whose team returned home after calling off the last two games.

England's players, still wary of their safety, appear set to return for a two-Test series starting on December 11 if a security report commissioned by their national board clears the trip.

But there is concern foreign players could shun India, home to a multi-million dollar Twenty20 league, with many teams already refusing to tour Pakistan over security worries.

Officials played down media speculation the International Cricket Council (ICC) could take away the 2011 one-day World Cup being hosted by India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

"It is in 2011 and I'm confident our government will take corrective actions," India's ICC vice-president Sharad Pawar, also a federal cabinet minister, told the CNN-IBN channel.

"In the near future, you will see a totally different situation where all precautionary measures have been taken and nobody will dare to show this kind of courage here."

However, immediate security concerns did force organisers to postpone this week's US $6 million Twenty20 Champions League involving eight teams from five nations.

PLAYERS SHAKEN

The Mumbai siege, which ended on Saturday, has also shaken foreign players, many of whom were due to stay in one of the two luxury five-star hotels targeted in the raids.

The Mumbai attacks have come in the middle of a global financial crisis, which has affected global sports sponsorship amid safety concerns in India's neighbourhood.

Many foreign teams have refused to travel to Pakistan due to a spate of suicide bombings.

The ICC postponed the September Champions Trophy in Pakistan until late next year due to a possible boycott by five of the eight teams.

The Indian government has said the Mumbai attackers came from Pakistan, straining bilateral political ties and dimming hopes it would permit a Test tour of that country in January.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India still hopes to stage an incident-free England Test series, if their opponents decide to return, which is seen as crucial to boosting the morale of other teams intending to tour.

"We're very concerned [about security] and are working with the state governments to make sure the security is adequate for the teams and the fans alike," board vice-president Lalit Modi said.

Meanwhile, the top Indian Premier League (IPL) official believes better security measures and the country's financial muscle in the game should help restore normality quickly.

"Incidents of this sort are going to create immediate reactions," said Sundar Raman, CEO of the multi-million dollar Twenty20 Champions League.

"It is exactly the same as the blasts that happened in London [in 2005] and a couple of weeks after that you had the Ashes series happening," he said.

Source:
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