Sunday, September 14, 2008

Australia's tour of India in threat !

India cricket officials say Australia's upcoming tour should proceed as planned despite the tourists' concerns about security risks following bomb attacks in New Delhi that killed at least 20 people Saturday.

Cricket Australia said Sunday it will seek expert risk assessment in the wake of the bombings. Its 15-man squad is due to depart on Sept. 21. The third test of the four-match series is scheduled to start in New Delhi on Oct. 29.

"We are concerned and saddened about the news that there has been these bombings overnight in New Delhi," Cricket Australia public affairs manager Peter Young said.

"Whenever something like this happens we have a formal process that we invoke and we do that in conjunction with the Australian Cricketers Association. New Delhi is still a fair way off but it's obviously a concern. We'll get some specialist advice and seek to understand what's going on and what the risks are."

Indian cricket board secretary Niranjan Shah said the bombings will not derail the much-awaited tour.

"I have not heard about any communication from Australia and I don't think there will be any change to the tour schedule," Shah told reporters in the western Indian city of Rajkot on Sunday.

"I hope Australia also understands our position. The situation is normal and the Australian tour to India will go as per schedule.

"If there are any concerns, a security team will come. I don't think there will be any problem in Australia coming to India."

As well as the deaths, almost 100 people were injured in a series of at least five explosions that struck a park and shopping areas in New Delhi just after sundown Saturday, a prime time for weekend shoppers in the crowded city.

An Islamic militant group claimed responsibility for the bombings in an e-mail sent to several Indian news organizations.

Australia pulled out of a tour of Pakistan earlier this year, and was one of the nations that pressured the ICC into delaying the Champions Trophy tournament on security grounds. The Champions Trophy was to have been held in Pakistan this month, but was ultimately postponed for a year.