Vol. 5 Num 558 Wed. December 21, 2005  

India okay Karachi as Test venue

India has conditionally cleared the national cricket team to play a Test in Karachi during their tour of Pakistan starting next month, a Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) official said on Tuesday.

"The tour has been cleared (by the government). Karachi has also been cleared to play a Test, provided certain security conditions are met," Rajiv Shukla, chairman of the BCCI's media committee, told reporters.

"The government informed us yesterday," he said.

Teams touring Pakistan have been reluctant to play Tests in the cricket-mad port city of Karachi due to security concerns.

The Indians refused to play a Test in the city when they toured Pakistan last year, crossing the border for a series after a 14-year absence.

Shukla said a team comprising security and cricket board officials would travel to Pakistan to make a first-hand assessment of the situation in the volatile city.

Although a major cricket venue, Karachi has been the scene of a series of bomb blasts in recent years.

Only two Tests have been staged in Karachi in the last five years with teams particularly hesitant to play there after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

Last year, the Indian government cleared the team to play only a one-day game in Karachi at the last moment, but the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had requested that their neighbours should agree a Test match this time.

The PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan had travelled to Mumbai this month to persuade his Indian counterparts on the issue.

India are scheduled to play three Tests in Lahore, Faisalabad and Karachi and five one-dayers in Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Multan and Karachi during their tour.