ICL: Indian Cricket League

BCCI to promote Abu Dhabi as Sharjah Alternative

Written by Kashif Aziz on April 22nd, 2006   (134 views)

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has clearly set its sights on turning Abu Dhabi into a high-profile and popular offshore international cricket venue where it can dictate terms and have maximum control over the management.

According to details gathered by ‘The News’ from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) sources, the BCCI, headed by Sharad Pawar, went out of its way to help out the Abu Dhabi Cricket Council (ADCC) in organising the Friendship Cup against Pakistan.

“Although it was the ADCC which is credited with organising the series but in reality the entire show was managed by the BCCI officials from behind the scenes. Clearly the move is on to turn Abu Dhabi into an Indian-dominated international venue,” one source said.

“It is no secret that the Indians were never happy when Sharjah was a high-profile venue and used to host matches as they always considered it as a Pakistan dominated set-up headed by Abdul Rehman Bukhatir. Now clearly Pawar and party are working according to a plan to turn Abu Dhabi into their own territory,” he added.

To back up his argument, the source said that when the Indian government stopped its team from playing at neutral/off shore venues after 2000 it mentioned very clearly in its letter that India should not play at Sharjah and other parts of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).”

“When the idea was first floated for the Friendship Cup by the Indians the PCB reminded them of the Indian government letter and the fact that Abu Dhabi was part of the UAE but Pawar said Pakistan should just prepare and he had got clearance from his government,” the source explained.

Pawar himself is a Union Agriculture minister and his assurance even came as a surprise to the PCB officials as until last year when Ranbhir Singh Mahendra was president of the Indian board the Indian board had always given a cold shoulder to the ADCC.

The source said that proof of India’s interest in Abu Dhabi and the Friendship Cup was evident from the number of guests invited from India compared to Pakistan. “They hardly invited a few guests from Pakistan compared to over a hundred from India,” he claimed.

He also pointed out that the BCCI had even kept mum despite the fact that some of their ministers complained of misbehaviour by security guards.

The Indian Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel was allegedly manhandled by security men during the first match but the Indian press reported that the BCCI is willing to forgive and forget — all for the sake of cricket in Abu Dhabi.

Secretary BCCI Niranjan Shah told reporters: “It was very bad on the part of the organisers. However, we’ve decided to give them the benefit of doubt since they were hosting an international match for the first time and there was heightened security due to the presence of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.’’

The source pointed out that if this incident had taken place in Sharjah or any other venue one can imagine the reaction from the Indians. He said that even B.R. Shetty and other ADCC officials had complained about the extreme pressure on them from the BCCI and its interference before the matches.

Just how keen the Indian board is to turn Abu Dhabi into a similar high-profile venue that Sharjah was once can be judged by their plans to host a tri-nation tournament in September for which Pakistan are also being roped in.

Another PCB source said the Indian board had initially invited Pakistan to take part in a tri-series involving Australia in India in September. “But we refused and secondly the International Cricket Council (ICC) also made it clear that as per rules since India was due to host the Champions Trophy from October 6, they couldn’t host an international event one month before the Champions Trophy began.

“So now there are plans to have the tri-series in September in Abu Dhabi and efforts are again being made to rope in Pakistan despite its reluctance as the BCCI and the organisers realise that to lure the people in and turn Abu Dhabi into an attractive venue, it was necessary to have Indo-Pak matches.

The PCB source said it was reluctant to play the tri-series since the Pakistan team would only return from its England tour around September 12 and the players required a break before the Champions Trophy in India.

Source: The News

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Technorati Tags: BCCI, Abu Dhabi, PCB, ADCC, Friendship Cup

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This entry was posted on Saturday, April 22nd, 2006 and is filed under General.

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