IPL semi-finals moved to Mumbai
The semi-finals of the 2010 IPL have been moved out of Bangalore and will be played at the DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai. The decision, announced by IPL commissioner Lalit Modi, was made following the two low-intensity blasts at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore shortly before the match between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians was due to begin on Saturday evening, and the recovery of two unexploded devices over the subsequent 24 hours.
"We don't want to take any chances. We want to ensure the safety of our players and spectators alike," Modi said from Dubai, where he is attending an ICC meeting, when he made the announcement.
"While reluctant to relocate the semi finals at such short notice, yesterday's incidents have made it clear that the current environment in Bangalore prevents us from continuing with our original plans," Modi said in a statement issued by the IPL. "The incidents were assessed by local police and the IPL's security agency as being of a minor nature but they have forced our hand."
The developments in Bangalore, which point to a lapse in security, have raised concerns over both general pre-match security procedures and the specific handling of the match after the blasts. There have been unconfirmed reports of some overseas players being unwilling to go ahead with Saturday's game and question marks over security arrangements during the tournament.
For the moment, though, the international cricket boards are not prepared to wait and watch the situation. The ECB said they were in "constant contact with their players at various franchises over a number of issues, of which safety and security is one, but there are no plans for the players to leave early."
Cricket Australia (CA) spokesman Peter Young said the security situation in India would be closely monitored. "We're keen to talk to IPL organisers, and that will possibly happen sometime in the next 12 hours or so, just to get an understanding of what's going on," he said.
Young said Australians playing in the IPL were participating in India independent of CA. "In a formal sense we are not connected," Young said. "But we are always concerned about our players and personnel."
Australian Cricketers Association chief executive Paul Marsh said the bombing was a ''serious concern'' and ''it is hugely disappointing from our perspective.'' ''I was in talks with one of the Australian players and there was a high degree of concern," he told the Age. ''There was a significant security breach. It is hard to imagine, how after all of the security concerns raised prior to the event and the ongoing security advice about India, that this was allowed to happen."
The New Zealand players' association manager Heath Mills said the NZPA had asked security consultant Reg Dickason for a report and added that the incident was "hardly surprising". "We want to ascertain what went on here, get some facts and see whether there's been a security breach," Mills told the New Zealand Herald. "Our security adviser has been telling us for some time something was likely going to happen and he invariably gets it right. We're just fortunate no one was killed and it wasn't worse."
Former New Zealand fast bowler turned commentator, Simon Doull, who was at the Chinnaswamy, said it was "frightening" after the bombs went off. "I was standing next to Andy Bichel and, when we heard the first explosion, we just looked at each other and went 'what's going on here?'," Doull told New Zealand media.
"At first, I think the players were a bit concerned about playing. But given nobody was killed, and that the blast took place outside the stadium, I would probably guess that 90% of people inside the stadium wouldn't have had a clue. There was never a public announcement or anything like that as far as I heard.
"When we got back to the hotel and discovered that another bomb - the biggest one of the lot - had been discovered, we started to wonder whether we should have gone ahead with the match."
There were around 40,000 spectators inside the Chinnaswamy Stadium at the time of the blasts in Bangalore and security measures were tightened. Apart from the two blasts that delayed the start of Saturday's first match by more than an hour, and in which at least eight people sustained injuries, another bomb was found and defused at a separate location outside the arena. On Sunday morning, another unexploded device was found several meters from the stadium, and a second one a short distance away.
Meanwhile, the Karnataka government and police force expressed their disappointment at the decision, and hoped the IPL will hold the semi-finals in Bangalore as initially planned.
"We will talk to them to hold the matches [in Bangalore itself]. We had provided full security to the match on Saturday and assure that all security measures needed for the semi-finals will be provided," Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa said.
His stand was echoed by Bangalore city police commissioner, Shankar Bidari. "We will take full and complete responsibility for the security. I appeal to the BCCI to consult IPL security officials, security consultants of foreign teams, Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) president and secretary and reverse the decision to shift the semi-final matches to Navi Mumbai," Bidari said.