New Delhi: It's a decision being awaited by millions of cricket fans on both sides of the border. For the moment, the government says its optimistic that the Indian cricket team's tour to Pakistan will go on as scheduled in March. Though a final decision is yet to be taken, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee apparently feels that cancellation could affect the composite dialogue process. Weighing options But behind the scenes, various options are being considered, which includes curtailing the tour and not playing in Peshawar and Karachi. The second option is to cancel the one day matches, while another option that is being considered is to defer the tour till after the elections. Meanwhile, a three-member team of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is in Karachi to assess the security situation in the country. The BCCI team is on a week-long visit ahead of the Indian cricket team's tour of Pakistan tentatively scheduled for the second week of March. The cricket board team which comprises a senior police official will submit its report over the next few days and a final decision on whether the full tour will go ahead as planned will be taken only after that. Tour will go on Meanwhile, reacting to reports of the Home Ministry voicing security concerns as a possible reason for curtailing the tour, Minister of State for Home ID Swami clarified in New Delhi that the tour will go on. "We are looking into all aspects including security before giving any clearance. But we're optimistic about the tour," said the minister. However, BCCI has made it very clear that they can only recommend and advise the government but that the final decision on security can only be taken by the Home ministry. "We are very hopeful and are just waiting for the clearance from the Home Ministry. That is why Mr Dalmiya has included one senior officer of the Home Ministry into the delegation. Security aspect has to be handled by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the moment they clear it we are ready for the tour," said Rajeev Shukla, member, BCCI. Playing 'safe' How ready are the cricketers for this tour is a question that has been met with a very guarded response from most players. "We will rest for 15-20 days and then decide what all has to be done because only when we go on tour will we decide what we are to do. These security issues are all the BCCI's decisions. They have gone there to review security related issues. We did not talk about this as it is the board that has to take a decision," said Virender Sehwag. However, former cricketers are far more forthright as they maintain the line that politics should not affect sporting ties. "I think we should go because this upcoming tour has already been given a lot of publicity. If we play then both the nations will benefit and tension between the two countries will also be reduced," said Madan Lal, former coach of the Indian cricket team. Keeping mum The BCCI says it's not going to comment on the issues until it receives a report from its team which is currently touring Pakistan. So far it says, the security review team's response has been "positive". The team will be meeting the Pakistan Cricket board on February 15 or 16. The BCCI team is likely to submit a report to board President Jagmohan Dalmiya on February 18 and a meeting is expected on February 19. Red carpet welcome Pakistan is laying out a red carpet welcome for the delegation since a favourable report will mean that the tour goes ahead. In the last three years only two teams have agreed to play in Pakistan, Bangladesh and South Africa, while others played in neutral venues following the bomb blast during New Zealand's tour of Pakistan. Pakistan is hoping to host the 1st three-day game from March 6.
Topics : Cricket