West Indies U-19s withdrawn from Bangladesh tour
The West Indies Cricket Board has withdrawn its Under-19 team from the ongoing tour of Bangladesh, following an explosion near the team hotel in Chittagong on Saturday. A WICB statement confirmed the decision early on Monday morning, as they looked to ship the team out of Chittagong at the earliest.
"The WICB's decision [to withdraw the team] was taken following consideration of a report on the situation in Bangladesh as prepared by WICB security manager Paul Slowe," the statement said. "The report emphasised that the current security environment in Bangladesh is not conducive to the playing of cricket in light of the 72 hours nationwide blockade and calls for countrywide dawn-to-dusk protest. The State Department of the United States of America has also issued a travel alert to its citizens living in and travelling to Bangladesh.
"Travel arrangements are being made to allow for the team's return to the Caribbean as quickly as possible. The team will remain safely accommodated at the team hotel under adequate security protection until departure from Bangladesh."
On Sunday, following the assurance of "reinforced" security from the Bangladesh Cricket Board, the WICB had said the team was "not targeted and was not in any immediate danger", but it was working with the Bangladesh board, contacting the players' parents, and would provide an update on the situation if necessary.
The second match of the ODI series, scheduled to take place on Sunday, was postponed to Monday, following the incident near the hotel. West Indies had lost the first game, but were scheduled to play seven matches in all in the series.
The pullout is a blow to Bangladesh's immediate future as host of the 2014 World Twenty20s to be held in March. The BCB had only just turned the corner in confirming Sylhet as a prepared venue after much speculation about its completion.
"Security plans for the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014 have been drafted and are continually being reviewed and updated," an ICC spokesperson told ESPNcricinfo. "As is the case for any event, the ICC is actively monitoring the situation and continues to work closely with the BCB to ensure that informed decisions can be made and that plans are appropriate. As always, the safety and security of all participants in ICC events remains of the highest priority."
Bangladesh's general elections are scheduled to take place on January 5, and there has been continued violence across the country. The intensity has risen since October with numerous political strikes and blockades.
The New Zealand team canceled one training session during their tour in October when Bangladesh's main opposition party called a strike. The tour, however, went through as cricket is usually kept out of the jurisdiction of any political action.
The BCB is yet to make a statement on the issue.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here