Cricket: World Cup - Wasim appeals for fan control

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The Independent Online
PAKISTAN'S CAPTAIN, Wasim Akram, and his Indian counterpart, Mohammad Azharuddin, yesterday called for extra protection from fans ahead of next Tuesday's potentially explosive World Cup Super Six match between their sides.

The tension surrounding the match has increased following military confrontations and shelling last week on the disputed Kashmir border between the two nations. Police have already announced extra security plans for the game at Old Trafford, which has large Pakistani and Indian communities.

Wasim, speaking after a pitch invasion following his side's defeat to Bangladesh on Monday, said: "Something has to be done to stop this. Fans are coming up to the players and hitting them. It is too much. Saqlain Mushtaq was quite shaken."

Hundreds of supporters streamed onto the ground even before television replays had confirmed the last dismissal.

Azharuddin, who was abused and jostled by a drunken fan after India lost to South Africa at Hove on 15 May, added: "It was great to have so many people supporting us against England, but what's the point if we have to run away from them after the match?

"Even before the last wicket falls, players are thinking how to get back quickly to the pavilion. It may look funny, but it is a very serious matter."

Looking ahead to the Super Six match with their arch-rivals next week, Azharuddin added: "It's not the Pakistan players we fear, but the fans."

The World Cup event manager, Michael Browning, said that publishing details of any security clampdown could provoke trouble. "The moment you start saying we are increasing security you are then throwing out a challenge to somebody to try and break it," Browning said. A World Cup spokesman dismissed a television report that the match could be moved to the Netherlands to diffuse potential problems.

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