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The ODI World Cup warm-up match between Pakistan and New Zealand, on September 29 in Hyderabad, will be played behind closed doors (without spectators in attendance) after the local police failed to provide assurance about arranging adequate security for the game. ESPNcricinfo has learned that the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) has updated the BCCI about the development.
The news, first reported by the Indian Express on Monday, will impact the fans who bought tickets for the match. On Monday, September 25, four days after decision was made to play behind closed doors, the BCCI announced* that spectators who purchased tickets for the game will receive a refund.
"ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 warm-up match between New Zealand and Pakistan scheduled to take place in Hyderabad on 29th September will now take place behind closed doors as per the advice of the local security agencies," the BCCI statement said. "The match in Hyderabad coincides with festivals on the day and large gatherings are expected around the city. The spectators who bought tickets for the game will receive a full refund."
There has been a question mark over the Pakistan vs New Zealand warm-up game, a day-night fixture, since the HCA was told by local police that it would struggle to meet the security demands put in place by the ICC, for World Cup matches including the warm-ups. This is because of two major religious festivals, which take place around the same date as the match and involve large crowd gatherings.
K Durga Prasad, who assists in running the HCA, confirmed that security was a factor behind the decision. "The BCCI is expected to take call whether the warm-up game, between Pakistan and New Zealand on September 29 in Hyderabad, will be a closed affair or not in view of the concerns expressed by the authorities to provide security as it clashed with the lord Ganesh idols immersion," he said.
The HCA had updated the BCCI recently about the issue, but was confident that it would conduct the match on schedule by coming up with a back-up plan in case the match date wasn't changed. With the tickets sold and the broadcast plans set in stone, it was not possible to shift the match date.
Earlier in August, Hyderabad police had expressed concerns over security arrangements following a tweak in the original schedule, which led to the city hosting back-to-back matches on October 9 and 10. It was a fallout of as many as nine fixtures from the original schedule being juggled once the India vs Pakistan match had to be brought forward by a day - October 15 to October 14 - as it coincided with the first day of the festival of Navratri.
The HCA aside, the Cricket association of Bengal (CAB) too had requested the BCCI to reschedule a fixture in November as it clashed with the festival of Kali Pujo. In a letter to the board, the CAB had requested for the game - England vs Pakistan on November 12 - to be played a day earlier. In it's response, the BCCI accommodated the request as part of its rescheduling of nine matches.
Hyderabad is one of three venues, along with Thiruvananthapuram and Guwahati, that will host the warm-up segment of the tournament, to be played between September 29 and October 3, before the tournament proper starts on October 5.
September 25, GMT 1430 The story was updated after the BCCI announced it would refund spectators who had purchased tickets for the match.