IPL will go ahead say organisers

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The Independent Online

Indian Premier League organisers have confirmed the Twenty20 tournament will be played across eight Indian cities as originally scheduled from 10 April - 24 May, with some changes to game dates to fit in with national elections.

"We want to assure cricket fans and everyone involved with event that the IPL is on," IPL commissioner Lalit Modi said today, asserting that there would be proper security for players and spectators.

"There's no reservation about security, we have our security experts in and holding discussions with them."

Modi's comments allayed fears the rich Twenty20 competition would have to be postponed to avoid overstretching security forces which will be called up during concurrent elections.

"Cricket in India is completely safe, but the dates for IPL matches need to be rejigged," Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said.

Modi thanked the government for clearing the tournament with a revised itinerary.

"We're extremely grateful and thankful to the Home Minister for his clarification that security will be provided for IPL matches," Modi said.

Modi said the IPL governing body would soon release a revised schedule, ensuring there was no clash with polling in any city or state.

"It's a cumbersome process, because there are blackout dates in several cities due to elections," Modi said.

The elections for the Indian parliament's lower house will be staged across the country in five different phases between 16 April and 13 May.

Modi said there would be no match anywhere on 16 May, when votes will be counted throughout the country.

"We currently have over 14 cities that are available to stage matches, we now have to reduce that list to eight," Modi said.

IPL organizers tried to avoid a delay to the event by earlier saying they would not need national paramilitaries to provide security, and could get by with local police forces in the host cities.

They were eager to avoid a postponement, as it would have been difficult to find another window in the crowded cricket calendar in which both Indian and international players would be available.

Tuesday's terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team convoy in the Pakistan city of Lahore, which killed six policemen and injured seven team members, had sparked concern about security for players on the subcontinent.

Federation of International Cricketers' Association's chief Tim May said a players' survey had shown a large majority of foreign players contracted to IPL teams wanted security stepped up.