DOWN: The Marriott Hotel in Islamabad after the Sept. 21 bombing. The hotel was used by international cricket teams.
Top Indian cricket players, including captain M S Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar, are unwilling to tour Pakistan in January because they fear for their security.
Sources tell that senior players have expressed their concern to the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI). The team is scheduled to play three Tests and five ODIs from January 4 to February 19 tour in Pakistan.
Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh too have expressed their unwillingness to tour Pakistan. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has assured foolproof security but the Indians believe the threat during the tour would be severe.
PCB chief Ejaz Butt is scheduled to visit India soon to try and convince the BCCI but that plea is now likely to fall on deaf ears.
It is known that the Ministry of External Affairs is unlikely to permit the Indian team to tour Pakistan.
Early November, the government refused to permit the Indian junior hockey team to tour Pakistan due to security concerns.
The Associated Press reports the International Cricket Council deferred the Champions Trophy in September after five of the eight participating teams refused to compete at the biennial tournament that is considered the second most prestigious one-day event after the World Cup.
The PCB has said it would consider playing India at a neutral venue or possibly switch series as alternatives. Pakistan is due to tour India in 2010.
As the curtains come down on Sourav’s illustrious 16-year international career, I salute
India’s most successful captain for all his on and off field achievements. You will forever remain a hero and an
inspiration for us, Dada. May you continue to prosper and achieve even greater heights in your life ahead.
All the best and thanks for all the memories. We will miss you a lot.
VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble, Sourav Ganguly, and Sachin Tendulkar during a felicitation
Former captains Anil Kumble and Sourav Ganguly reposed faith in Mahendra Singh Dhoni and expressed hopes that under him, India would emerge as the number one team in the world.
“I know for the fact that this team under MS and (coach) Gary (Kirsten) will soon become the number one team. We have that talent,” an optimist Kumble said after he, along with Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman were felicitated by the BCCI.
Ganguly, India’s most successful captain ever, shared Kumble’s view and said, “MS and Gary are our two torch-bearers and I hope they would take Indian cricket forward.”
Ganguly, who is playing his last Test here, took the occasion to thank all and said though he didn’t endear to all, he always had the team interest in mind.
“It was a long journey with lots of ups and downs, victory and loss but it was wonderful. Sharing the dressing room with the likes of Anil, Sachin, Rahul (Dravid) and Laxman has been an honour and privilege.
“During the journey, I made both friends and enemies but it was all for the good of Indian cricket,” said the left-hander.
Kumble individually thanked almost each and every teammate even though Tendulkar came in for special praise. “When he first came into the international scene, whole India said ‘you’d break every batting record’ and he had the talents to prove all right…
“With Rahul, I have shared a special bond, he was my Karnataka teammate as well. We have had some fantastic moments and I say ‘you have been the backbone of Indian cricket. All the success we had came because of your contribution’,” Kumble said.
Kumble was equally effusive in his praise for Ganguly and said, “Under you, we’ve learnt how to win Tests abroad. Besides, we have always cherished your batting.”
On Laxman, who is playing his 100th Test here, Kumble felt the right hander didn’t get his dues despite bailing out the team from difficult situations.
For his spin partner Harbhajan Singh, Kumble said, “I will miss bowling with you from the other end. From now onwards, you’d lead the (spin) attack. You are close to a personal landmark (of 300 Test wickets) and I’m sure one day you’ll become the highest wicket-taker for India.”
On Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan, Kumble said, “I have played lot with both Veeru and Zak. Veeru is a very special talent and both he and Zak would lead the Indian batting and bowling.
“To all other members of the team, I wish you a great career ahead. Before this Test series against Australia, we sat and decided in Bangalore that we have to win this series. We are very close to that and I hope you guys will win it.”
Talking about Kumble and Ganguly, Tendulkar paid a rich tribute to both and said, “Sourav had lots of ups and downs in his career but has shown great determination and delivered tremendous performance. We’ve opened in lot of ODIs and know each other’s game very well.
“Anil too showed 100 percent determination. He broke his jaw in West Indies but returned with a plastered jaw and removed Brian Lara,” Tendulkar said.
“We’ll miss Sourav and Anil, as will the entire country,” he added.
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