The lucrative Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament will proceed with possible schedule changes to fit in with national election security arrangements, officials said on Wednesday.
|India provided tight security for the England team following the Mumbai attacks [AFP]
India's interior ministry official Madhukar Gupta is expected to meet the IPL officials soon to discuss the tournament dates and security aspects after federal lawmaker Palaniappan Chidambaram expressed concern about having to juggle the security forces between polling and cricket matches.
The IPL has been scheduled for April 10-May 24 in eight Indian cities, while the elections for the Indian Parliament's lower house will be staged across the country in five different phases between April 16 and May 13.
The Home Minister's comment on Tuesday that he did not want the security forces "stretched if the IPL clashes with elections'' has forced IPL officials to revise the competition schedule.
IPL board member and former Indian cricket board president Inderjit Bindra said on Wednesday that "schedule adjustments will now have to be made.''
"There's no danger to the IPL from the security perception, but we'll work on adjustments to suit the Home Minister's view,'' Bindra told India's independent Times Now television.
"The Home Minister's perception is paramount. If the Home Minister says it is not possible, then it's not possible, but we'll sit with the ministry officials and resolve this issue,'' Bindra said.
IPL chief executive Sundar Raman wants no matches held within one or two days of the polling dates in any venues.
New Delhi Television said on Wednesday the event will "most probably be cancelled if the IPL dates have to be changed'' to start after the elections.
But Lalit Modi, the IPL chairman and a vice president of the Indian cricket board, was emphatic that there was no cancellation threat confronting the IPL.
"The country cannot come to a standstill for six weeks,'' Modi told Indian television from Macau.
"We're conscious of the fact that the elections will take place in India during April-May and will structure our schedule around the elections.''
Meanwhile, Tuesday's attack on the Sri Lanka team convoy, which killed six policemen and injured seven team members, had also sparked concern among player representatives about security surrounding the IPL.
Federation of International Cricketers' Association's chief Tim May said a players' survey had shown a large majority of foreign players contracted to IPL teams wanted security stepped up.
May said 88 percent of foreign IPL-contracted players wanted better security and 83 percent wished for assessments made by independent security experts - a request to which the IPL was yet to respond - the Australian Associated Press reported.
Australian all-rounder Shane Watson, the player of the season in the inaugural IPL, was keen to return for Rajasthan.
"You're never safe anywhere, to be fair,'' said Watson.
"It's part and parcel of the world environment at the moment, more than just a certain region.''
"It's part and parcel of the world environment at the moment, more than just a certain region"
Western Australia state coach Tom Moody, who does the same job for the Mohali team in the IPL, was eager for cricket in South Asia to continue.
"We can't step away and seem that we're beaten because of these individual acts,'' Moody said.
"I'm sure security will be lifted to maximum level and players and officials should be able to be safe going forward, whether it's the IPL or other tours in parts of the subcontinent.''