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BCCI 'would like to fully support' Zimbabwe

In its first official reaction to the Zimbabwe issue, which tops the agenda for the ICC's annual meeting in Dubai next week, the Indian board has said it "would like to fully support" Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) on the issue of full membership of the world governing body. Niranjan Shah, the BCCI secretary, added, however, that the board will go by the Indian government's guidelines when it comes to specific cricket tours and interactions with Zimbabwe.

"We are very clear that we would like to fully support Zimbabwe on the issue of full membership of the ICC," Shah told Cricinfo. "We are aware that some member boards want Zimbabwe's membership taken away, but we are with Zimbabwe on this. However, we also understand the positions taken by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Cricket South Africa (CSA) as they were prompted by the advice of the governments in those countries. We do not blame them as they are bound by what their governments decide. But our position is very clear on the issue of full membership and we would like to totally support Zimbabwe on that."

Shah, who will also be attending the Dubai conference, confirmed that the Indian board has not got any guidelines from its government so far on the Zimbabwe issue. "We will go by our government's guidelines, which will be applicable to specific tours and interactions with Zimbabwe, but nothing has come so far," he said.

With the BCCI officially clarifying its stand on the issue, it becomes extremely difficult for the ICC board to decide any stringent action against Zimbabwe next week. A two-thirds majority vote within the ICC board - seven out of 10 votes - is needed for any resolution to be moved on Zimbabwe. That includes suspending them from full membership, which would see them lose access to a significant chunk of ICC funding and valuable voting rights.

The ECB and CSA have suspended all ties with Zimbabwe cricket, and are pushing to shut the door on Zimbabwe but the BCCI is now expected to lean on its traditional vote bank of Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to prevent any such move. Duleep Mendis, the chief executive of Sri Lanka Cricket, told Cricinfo that they are "yet to take a final decision as all this happened over the last 2-3 days."