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.
Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Nov 22, 2008 denied rift with selectors on dropping of Rudra Pratap Singh and preferring all-rounder Irfan Pathan for the remaining part of the on-going One-Day series against England.
“I don’t know who is spreading this kind of rumors. Whoever is leaking confidential matters to the press is not doing any good for the well being of cricket. I don’t want to deny or admit what transpires during the meeting because it is supposed to be confidential. If someone has leaked confidential matters to the press it is just not done. I want to know who the source was. As far as I am concerned there was no rift with the selectors on any issue,” Dhoni told reporters on the eve of the fourth One-Day match at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
“It is unfortunate that such rumors are being spread when the team is doing so well and we are on the threshold of achieving yet another series victory. I should admit this kind of distractions are not good for the game in general and for the team in particular. The selection matters should always remain inside the four walls and moreover it is the selectors job to pick the best possible team,” he added.
It is understood that one of the selectors leaked about Dhoni’s threat to quit as captain of the Indian team if Irfan Pathan was preferred ahead of R P Singh during the selection meeting in Kanpur after the hosts beat England by 16 runs on Duckworth-Lewis Method.
However, Dhoni, who first denied the rift vehemently but later on softened his stance and wanted to know who was leaking out confidential matters to the press wanted to know the name of the person responsible when a scribe tried to grill him on this matter.
“if you (scribe) got the news over phone from someone, why don’t you name that person. By naming that person, you will be doing a great service to the team as what transpires in a meeting is not supposed to be leaked by anyone,” he thundered.
“Thankfully, our team is very united and both R P and Irfan understand that the best 16 boys get to play for the country. Luckily I don’t have to explain to RP or Irfan about anything as they trust me fully. In fact the whole team trusts each other and I should say that it has been a very short but fruitful journey as a player and captain so far. Though this unwanted event (rumors of rift) has turned out to be an eventful journey as well,” he added.
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