Mumbai attack throws January tour of Pakistan into doubt

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The Independent Online

The Indian government is yet to decide whether to allow the national team to tour Pakistan, amid serious doubts following the attacks in Mumbai, a government spokesman said yesterday.

"Since the tour is in January there is still some time, we are discussing the issue," a foreign ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash said yesterday.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has sought permission to tour amid security concerns over playing in that country.

The three-day rampage which killed nearly 200 people in Mumbai has dimmed hopes of it going ahead after the Indian government said it had proof of a Pakistani link to the attacks, straining political ties between the south Asian neighbours.

Indian media quoted unnamed cricket officials yesterday as saying the tour appeared doubtful. The Indian board secretary, N Srinivasan, refused to comment.

There have also been reports that some England players are reluctant to return to India later this week to play a two-Test series.

"I would not, if somebody felt strongly, force their arm," the managing director of the England and Wales Cricket Board, Hugh Morris, said on Saturday.

England called off the last two games of a one-day series to return home following the attacks, with the two boards agreeing to go ahead with the Tests.

The Pakistan tour would depend on a security assessment, Prakash said. "Before any tour is undertaken an advance team goes and carries out an assessment. The team has not gone.

"We will wait for the team's visit and its report on return before deciding anything."

The Indian team did not go on a full tour of Pakistan for nearly 15 years until 2004 because of political tensions. The Pakistan Cricket Board has already raised concerns the attacks could scupper the series.

India are due to play three Tests, five one-dayers and a Twenty20 international in the tour from 13 January to 19 February.