Sept 26 (AFP) – Pakistan’s first warm-up match ahead of the ODI World Cup in arch-rival India will be held behind closed doors due to security issues, the hosts said on Monday.
India and Pakistan are bitter adversaries and only play cricket against each other in international tournaments due to longstanding political tensions.
Babar Azam’s team will take on New Zealand on Friday in the south Indian city of Hyderabad, where large crowds are expected to gather for a Hindu festival.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said spectators will not be allowed inside the stadium and the match will “take place behind closed doors as per the advice of the local security agencies”.
The match “coincides with festivals on the day and large gatherings are expected around the city,” the BCCI said in a statement, adding ticket holders will be refunded.
The 50-over showpiece tournament will begin on October 5 in Ahmedabad, with the city also hosting the hotly anticipated clash between India and Pakistan on October 14.
Pakistan had agreed to visit India after they agreed to jointly host the recently concluded Asia Cup, allowing India to play its matches in Sri Lanka.
Pakistan will play its second warm-up against Australia on October 3 at the same venue, and stay on for their tournament opener against the Netherlands on October 6.
In August, fears over security for the India-Pakistan blockbuster clash in Ahmedabad saw the match moved back a day, because the match was originally scheduled at the start of a nine-day Hindu religious festival.
Pakistan’s visit to India will be their first since the 2016 Twenty20 World Cup.
Visas for the Pakistan team to travel to India were issued on Monday, Indian and Pakistani media reported, just 48 hours before they were due to travel.