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India's tour of Pakistan called off

Last updated on: December 18, 2008 16:01 IST

India's cricket tour of Pakistan was officially called off on Thursday, with the government refusing the team permission to travel across the border in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks.

The government's decision was conveyed to Board of Control for Cricket in India president Shashank Manohar through a letter, which cited "recent developments as well as the overall circumstances prevailing at present" as the reasons for calling off the high-profile tour.

"The final decision has been taken. We have got the letter from the Sports Ministry and the Ministry of External Affairs not to proceed with the tour", said senior BCCI official Rajeev Shukla.

"The government has declined permission to go ahead with the tour taking into account the recent developments in Mumbai as well as the overall circumstances prevailing at present", Shukla added.

He said External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Sports Minister M S Gill also personally called up Monohar to convey the decision.

India were scheduled to play three Tests, five one-dayers and a Twenty20 match during their tour of Pakistan from January 4 to February 28, but the tour was thrown into jeopardy in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks.

The BCCI had all along maintained that it was up to the government to decide on the fate of the tour.

"Now that we have received the letter, we will intimate it to the Pakistan Cricket Board," Shukla said.

There was intense speculation that the tour will be called off in the aftermath of the Mumbai carnage and top BCCI officials had privately admitted that there was no chance that the team will travel to Pakistan.

Even Sports Minister Gill had gone on record last week saying the team should not tour Pakistan under the circumstances, which was seen as a clear indication of things to come.

Even before the Mumbai carnage, some senior Indian cricketers were apprehensive of travelling to Pakistan because of the security scenario in the strife-torn country.

The cancellation of the tour has not only put a question mark on sporting ties between the two countries but will also have a bearing on the 2011 Cricket World Cup being jointly hosted by the four Asian countries.

Pakistan was keen to play the series at a neutral venue in case the tour was cancelled but the BCCI said it hasn't taken a decision on such a possibility.

BCCI's Chief Administrative Officer Ratnakar Shetty said the government's decision will not have any impact on the 2011 World Cup.

"It will not affect the 2011 World Cup, that's a different tournament," he said.

"We'd written to the government about the tour and we've just got the letter from the government that in the present circumstances the tour is not possible.

Asked if it was because of the fact that senior players were not ready to play in Pakistan, Shetty said, "I am not ready to comment on that. It was upto the government to decide and it was not for the BCCI to decide.

Shetty did not feel it would create an uncomfortable atmosphere for the BCCI and PCB.

"No, I don't think so. PCB is aware of whatever is happening at the moment."

He said there was no discussion on the two teams playing the series at a neutral venue.

"We've not discussed anything on this," he said and added there would be "no tour to replace the Pakistan series".