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CBFS lobbying with India, courting New Zealand

The Cricketers Benefit Fund Series (CBFS), chairman Abdul Rehman Bukhatir on Tuesday lobbied with Indian officials to reconsider their reservations over participating in the tri-nation series even as the CBFS sounded New Zealand about taking India's place.

A report from Hamilton (New Zealand) said that Kiwis have been asked to fill the breach that may be caused by India's absence from the tournament in which Pakistan and Sri Lanka are the other two participating countries. "We have received the invitation" from CBFS, John Knowles, a spokesman for New Zealand Cricket Board said.

Official sources in New Delhi said the proposal on Indian cricket team's participation was still pending with the External Affairs Ministry. Bukhatir said nothing concrete has emerged from his meetings with officials so far.

Amidst reports that India was unlikely to participate in the tournament, Bukhatir, who met officials of the External Affairs Ministry, expressed the hope that India would participate in the bi-annual tournament scheduled to begin on April 8.

On the Indian government's reluctance caused by the reported presence of underworld mafia allegedly involved in match-fixing, Bukhatir said India should take up the issue with authorities in United Arab Emirates. "(Indian) Government is saying nothing. We are still very unclear about whether India will participate or not," he said.

But he denied having any information about the reported invitation to New Zealand to replace India in the tournament. "We have a contract with India and we cannot break it till India itself asks us to do so.

"People have been talking about Bangladesh and New Zealand and other countries (replacing India).... I don't know... I don't have any information. For me, our contract with India stands," Bukhatir said.