Cricket: Johannesburg Test delayed

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The Independent Online
THE FIRST Test between South Africa and Pakistan has been postponed for at least 24 hours after the mugging of two Pakistan bowlers left the tourists with just 10 fit players. The South African cricket board announced the decision only 13 hours before play was due to start.

The teams hope to begin the game in Johannesburg tomorrow if the victims, Saqlain Mushtaq and Mohammad Akram, are fit enough. Ali Bacher, the managing director of the United Cricket Board said: "At the moment we just have to take it a step at a time. There are substantial ramifications if we call it off for the weekend or postpone it for a week."

The delay follows an assault on the off-spinner Saqlain and opening bowler Mohammad on Wednesday evening. The pair were set upon by three men just yards from their hotel as they strolled to a nearby restaurant.

Their assailants got away with only about pounds 7.50 but left the players bruised and beaten. Saqlain required a neck brace, while Mohammad was stabbed in his bowling hand. "It's not only the physical damage that has been done but the psychological disturbance," Bacher said. "I spent a lot of time with them today and they are very disturbed." Pakistan threatened to pull out of the tour unless given assurances on security, but then requested a delay because of their injury problems.