Doubts over Australia tour after India blasts
Agence France-Presse in Sydney
Cricket Australia said the safety of its players was paramount as doubts were expressed over whether the Test series against India starting on Friday could go ahead after deadly bomb attacks in Hyderabad.
Twin blasts on Thursday killed at least 20 people in the city, which is due to host the second game of the four-match series starting on March 2, with the first Test set to start in southern Chennai just hours after the attacks.
“Australia’s cricket tour of India has been plunged into uncertainty,” said the Herald Sun newspaper, while the Sydney Morning Herald carried a headline “Hyderabad Test in doubt as bombings rock city”.
Australia pulled out of a tour to Pakistan in 2008 over security concerns after a series of bombings in the troubled country. They also refused to play any matches in the 1996 World Cup in Sri Lanka after bombings there.
A Cricket Australia statement said the tourists had so far received “no information to suggest there is any threat to the team” but that talks were ongoing. “The safety of the squad is of paramount importance,” it added.
“Australian team management and Cricket Australia staff are liaising with the Board of Control for Cricket in India, local authorities and the Australian High Commission to ensure we have all the appropriate information,” the statement said.
The Australian players were scheduled to arrive on Wednesday in Hyderabad, scene of numerous blood bombings in recent years and tense Hindu-Muslim relations.
The evening attacks targeted a mainly Hindu district in the city, a hub of India’s computing industry in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh which hosts local offices of Google and Microsoft among other Western IT companies.
After the blasts, the Foreign Affairs Department in Canberra warned Australians following the tour in India that terror attacks could happen anywhere.
“We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in India at this time because of the risk of terrorism, civil unrest, crime and vehicle accidents,” the department said.
“Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks. Terrorist attacks could occur anywhere at any time in India with little or no warning.
“Possible targets include public places in New Delhi, Mumbai and other major cities, and Indian security and political interests.”
However, the overall level of advice for Australians in India has not changed, with the department recommending people exercise a high degree of caution.
No major international cricket has been played in Pakistan since a deadly attack on the Sri Lankan team bus by armed militants in Lahore in 2009.