BCCI shifts Mumbai Test to Chennai
The BCCI has shifted the second Test between India and England to Chennai, following Wednesday's terrorist strikes in Mumbai. The Indian board's announcement is a reiteration of their unequivocal stand of Thursday, when Lalit Modi, a vice-president and head of its fixtures committee, said the series would go ahead.
The ECB has said that it was in agreement with the BCCI on continuing with the Test series after both boards agreed to call off the last two ODIs of the series following the strikes in Mumbai.
Friday's announcement, by N Srinivasan, the BCCI secretary, said the second Test would be shifted from Mumbai but start as scheduled on December 19. The pre-Test practice match against the Board President's XI will be in Vadodara from December 5-7, effectively giving the England team - which leaves Bangalore for London on Saturday morning with the ODI series postponed - five days at home.
Modi told Cricinfo that while the first Test will start as scheduled from December 11 in Ahmedabad, the second Test was shifted on a request from the ECB, which wanted the match to be held at a venue in southern India.
The decision to postpone the remaining two ODIs of the seven-match series was taken during a meeting between Srinivasan, ECB's managing director Hugh Morris, and the Indian team management in Bhubaneshwar. England did not travel to Guwahati on Thursday as scheduled but flew to Bangalore on Friday before boarding a plane home early on Saturday.
The Indian team, which had a meeting mid-day on Thursday, was informed by the BCCI about England's position. "We have been told England are going back home. So we are going to our homes," Venkatesh Prasad, India's bowling coach, told Cricinfo. As of now, the Indian team has been asked to assemble in Ahmedabad on December 8, three days before the scheduled start of the first Test start against England.
The ICC said they had "no role to play in the current situation" regarding the England tour of India. "The arrangements for the tour itself is strictly a bilateral matter," an ICC spokesperson said. "The only time we would play a part is if there is a disagreement between the boards about whether the tour would proceed or not. In that case there would be a security assessment binding with the two boards."
England's High Performance squad's tour has also been called off and the players, currently training in Bangalore, will travel home immediately. The squad, which includes Michael Vaughan, Monty Panesar and Andrew Strauss, was scheduled to reach Mumbai on December 3 to play a practice game and train with the England Test side.
The strikes, including blasts and shooting incidents, were spread out across the city but the majority of them were in south Mumbai, the main tourist hub. On Friday, security forces were still engaged in an encounter with terrorists inside the Taj Mahal hotel, a city landmark which was to host the two Test teams and was where the England side stayed during their warm-up period in Mumbai.
The Taj Mahal hotel was also where Middlesex were set to check-in on Thursday for their Champions League fixtures. Middlesex were due to leave London for Mumbai at 10am on Thursday to prepare for the Champions League but postponed their departure by 24 hours after being told that matches scheduled for Mumbai would be switched to Bangalore.
The Brabourne Stadium, which was the original venue of the second Test and scheduled to host three Champions League games, is in the middle of the area where most attacks have taken place. The attacks have taken place in the vicinity where most foreign tourists are likely to stay.