India news October 17, 2009

Match delayed after security alert

Cricinfo staff
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The match between Victoria and Cape Cobras on Saturday got off to a delayed start after police detained an Under-22 cricketer from Jammu and Kashmir staying at the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) complex in the Chinnaswamy Stadium in connection with a suspected presence of explosives at the venue. He was released after questioning and, after the police gave the green signal, the match eventually began at 5.40 pm (12.10 GMT) , almost two hours behind schedule, and was reduced to 17 overs a side.

A media release from the Champions League organisers said: "A young man was taken for questioning by police but he has subsequently been released without charge. Police and security experts have checked the stadium twice, as well as the suspicious bag, but nothing of concern has been found. As a result, the stadium has been given the all-clear for tonight's matches to proceed."

Police had asked Cape Cobras and Victoria, whose match was supposed to begin at 4.00 pm (10.30 GMT), to remain in their hotel and the start time was initially pushed back by an hour. The players were briefed by the tournament organisers about the security situation. Spectators were allowed into the venue after thorough checks; police said around 1500 security personnel were deployed at the stadium though they conceded it was not a significant increase from the usual figure.

A spokesman for the Victoria side said they were disconcerted by the initial reports but were satisfied with security assurances given to them by the police. However, Andrew Puttick, the Cobras captain, seemed unsure of his XI at the toss and South African commentator Mike Haysman said on air that some of the players had not come to the ground.

Briefing the media, Bangalore's police commissioner Shankar Bidari said the police acted on a tip-off on Friday night from the stadium staff: "When the police entered the room, the instruments pointed towards a bag but no explosives were found in it. Even then, as a measure of precaution, we have taken the person possessing the bag into custody. His antecedents are being verified from the Jammu and Kashmir police."

Bidari said the bag might have been used to transport explosives, which could have been shifted to another place.

Ehsan Mirza, a senior official at Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association, however, said they had been assured by KSCA secretary Brijesh Patel there was nothing untoward but they were not happy with the incident. "Our Under-22 team reached Bangalore on Friday evening from Bhubaneswar," Mirza told Cricinfo.

"Today morning some people - I'm not sure whether Karnataka police or any other security agency - came to the KSCA and carried out interrogations and picked two of our boys, Pervez Rasool and Mehrajudin (both from Kashmir). We spoke to Brijesh Patel and he assured us there was nothing untoward. But we are not happy with the incident. This is the height of indecency, the way our boys have been treated, and we are speaking to our president Farooq Abdullah to get the team back."

An official from the Jammu and Kashmir U-22 team said they were "shocked". "We are going to Mumbai soon. But now this has happened. All the boys are shocked. We are just waiting for further orders."