In a startling development, due to lack of adequate security cover stemming from a changed schedule that runs into festivals, the World Cup warm-up game between Pakistan and New Zealand on September 29 will be played under closed doors – no fans will be present- at the Rajiv Gandhi international stadium in Hyderabad. The Indian board will be issuing directions to Bookmyshow, the ticketing partner for the World Cup, to refund the money to those who have booked tickets for the game.
“The game will be played without spectators and those who have booked their tickets, their money will be refunded,” a BCCI official confirmed.
The city police had asked the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) to postpone the game as they won’t be able to garner enough security as they are tied up with the festivals Ganesh Visarjan and Milan-Un-Nabi that culminate on September 28. With the schedule already rejigged, the organisers were unable to accede to the request and hence it has now been decided that the spectators will be barred entry.
The security agencies had earlier raised red-flags over the two back-to-back World Cup 2023 league games scheduled to be held on October 9 and October 10 at the Rajiv Gandhi international cricket stadium in Hyderabad. The October 10th game involves Pakistan and Sri Lanka and the match on the 9th is between New Zealand and Netherlands. Around 3,000 police personnel will be deployed for one game and a large number of police personnel will be stationed at the hotel where the Pakistan team will be put up.
The original itinerary for the 2023 World Cup has already undergone a drastic change with as many as nine games being rescheduled. The India-Pakistan showdown was initially pencilled at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad for October 15, the first day of the Navratri festival, which is celebrated with much fervour across Gujarat. The clash of dates prompted the game to be brought forward by a day.
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Also, Kolkata was earlier scheduled to host the Pakistan-England fixture on November 12, coinciding with the Kali Puja, a major festival in Bengal. That game has now been marked for November 11.
These two modifications necessitated several other games to be moved to fit into the holes left in the schedule. For example, when the India-Pakistan game was moved to October 14, there were three matches on that day, prompting a change. Modifications were also required to ensure that teams had a fair gap between fixtures to accommodate travel, rest and training between matches.
The ICC World Cup is scheduled to be kicked off from October 5 in Ahmedabad