Mohali may replace Ahmedabad as Test venue

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Mohali has emerged as a front-runner to host one of the two Tests between India and England instead of Ahmedabad.

Updated: December 01, 2008 14:29 IST
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New Delhi:

Mohali has emerged as a front-runner to host one of the two Tests instead of Ahmedabad as top BCCI and England and Wales Cricket Board officials were engaged in discussions to take a final decision on England's return to play the series.

The England team, which called off the one-day series following the terror strikes in Mumbai and returned home, has expressed reservations over playing the Test in Ahmedabad.

A top BCCI source said Mohali could hold the Test instead of Ahmedabad and that there could be minor changes in the schedule of the two-match series.

"The BCCI is keen to see that the Test series proceeds and we are trying to address all the concerns raised by the ECB. Hopefully a final decision will be taken in the next two days," the source said.

In a bid to salvage the Test series, the BCCI had already shifted the second Test from Mumbai to Chennai but apparently the ECB now wants Ahmedabad also to be taken off as a venue.

The ECB will take a final decision on returning to India after getting the security clearance from their experts.

It is learnt that the ECB is also talking to the Indian and British governments, high commissions in Indian cities, security advisers and other risk assessment experts in order to give the cricketers a thorough dossier on safety issues in India.

When contacted, BCCI treasurer M P Pandove, who is also the secretary of the Punjab Cricket Association, said that Mohali has been shortlisted as an alternative venue but no final decision has been taken yet.

"Mohali has been shortlisted as a venue alongwith a few other centres. We have not got any communication yet from the BCCI which is holding discussions with ECB officials. We may get to know something by this evening", Pandove said.

In case Mohali is chosen as a venue, the three-day warm up match between the visitors and the Board President's XI at Baroda could also be shifted to some other venue.

"In such a scenario, the three-day match could be played in Mohali or a venue close to Mohali", the source said.

The BCCI and ECB officials are also exploring the posibility of starting the series in Chennai, the venue of the second Test, as the southern metropolis is considered to be a safer place.

"So in case, the series starts from Chennai, Mohali then will hold the second Test. The warm-up game will be held at a southern venue", the source said.

The first Test is scheduled to start from December 11 and the second Test is to be held from December 19 to 23. The warm-up game is scheduled from December 5 to 7.

The BCCI was mulling various options including awarding the first Test to Kolkata, which was next in line as per its rotation policy. But the ECB did not seem to be keen to play in Kolkata and suggested Mohali or Bangalore.

The BCCI is also in touch with their English counterparts over reports that senior players like Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison do not want to tour India, which meant that England could send a second-string team.

The ECB has maintained that it was for the players to decide whether they want to return to India but they would be briefed in detail about the security scenario and the arrangements that would be in place for the tour.

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