Pakistan Women's matches shifted to Cuttack
Pakistan Women will play their ICC Women's World Cup group matches in Cuttack, in the eastern Indian state of Orissa, following threats from political activists in Mumbai. The World Cup, which starts on January 31, will now be played across two cities, instead of just Mumbai as originally planned. However, there is no confirmation regarding the venues for the knockout stages yet.
Despite a BCCI official confirming to ESPNcricinfo on Friday that "Group B games will be played in Cuttack" and that Group A games will be played in Mumbai, and an ICC insider also revealing that the fixtures are "being reworked", keeping Cuttack in mind, there was no official word on the matter. On Saturday, though, the Orissa Cricket Association (OCA) secretary Asirbad Behera confirmed the move.
"We were informed about it yesterday. The Group B games will be played at Barabati Stadium and DRIEMS Stadium in Tangi (on the outskits of Cuttack)," Behera told ESPNcricinfo.
Pakistan's matches had to be shifted out of Mumbai due to protests by the Shiv Sena, a right-wing political party, against Pakistan's participation in the event. With Orissa coming into the fray, the Bajrang Dal and Kalinga Sena, outfits with similar ideological views as the Shiv Sena, have issued statements opposing Pakistan's participation in the tournament. However, Behera said the event will be held smoothly.
"Orissa is a peaceful state with strong brotherhood bonds, so we hope that there will be no trouble for any team to play in Orissa. Still, we are taking all sorts of precautions and are in touch with the state government who have offered their support to us," Behera said.
The ICC, however, will not take any chances and will not make an official announcement till all the issues related to security of all teams, especially Pakistan, are resolved. It is expected that BCCI-appointed tournament director Suru Nayak will meet Orissa chief minister Naveen Patnaik along with the state police chief to chalk out the final security plan for the Pakistan team.
While England, India, West Indies and Sri Lanka will be based in Mumbai for their Group A games, Group B comprises Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa for the event that will run for just over two weeks, culminating in the final on February 17.
* - 1510GMT, January 19, 2013 - The story was updated to include the confirmation from the Orissa Cricket Association secretary
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo