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Tuesday, June 8, 1999 Published at 07:02 GMT 08:02 UK

Cricket tensions high

Wasim Akram: "Hopefully the fans will take it in the right spirit"

Owen Bennett-Jones in Islamabad: "Many Pakistanis cannot contemplate defeat"
Pakistan's captain, Wasim Akram, has asked fans to remain well behaved during Tuesday's Super Six clash between India and Pakistan.

With both sides currently involved in military skirmishes over Kashmir, organisers are fearful the already fierce rivalry will become even more intense.

Pakistan Coach Dr Zaffer Altaf: "This will be an exciting game"
A few hours before the match, there was an important diplomatic move to ease tension over Kashmir, when India proposed that the Pakistani foreign minister should visit Delhi on Saturday.

The match began at 1045 BST with the crowd well behaved as India began their innings.

Record security

[ image: Police are worried the military action over Kashmir will create problems]
Police are worried the military action over Kashmir will create problems
Lancashire officials met with police and local authorities last week and although they are keeping their provisions secret, it is believed to be one of the largest security operations for a cricket match in Britain.

World Cup organisers' biggest fear is that the end-of-match pitch invasions could put the players in danger, a concern which has already been voiced by several captains during the tournament.

"I do ask all the fans to co-operate and not run onto the field. Let's make it a day to remember for the right reasons," Wasim said.

Pat Murphy reports from Manchester ahead of the game
"All we are here for is to play cricket, it's just a game and hopefully the fans will take it in the right spirit and just enjoy it."

Wasim, who ended a 10-year association with Lancashire when he was released at the end of last season, is hopeful that Tuesday's match will pass off without incident and follow a similar pattern to the two most recent occasions when the countries met on the pitch.

But those two confrontations, in Toronto and Sharjah, both took place before the current political troubles and neither attracted the size of crowd expected at Old Trafford.

"I have spoken to the Lancashire chairman Jack Simmons about security and he has assured me everything is in place so I'm not worried," Wasim said.

"In fact I don't think there will be any trouble because we've played India in recent tournaments without any problems."

Lancashire have kept their security arrangements under wraps after talks with police and local authorities and chief executive Jim Cumbes said: "We're not being complacent and are planning accordingly.

"Our objective is for all fans to enjoy what potentially is a wonderful day's cricket between two fine sides and to ensure safety for all concerned."

Imran to mediate

Lancashire's Chief Executive Jim Coombes: "We're well prepared"
Former Pakistan cricket captain Imran Khan has joined hands with leaders of the Asian community to ensure the match passes off peacefully.

"I have told Lancashire I am available to help them make a success of it," Imran said.

"We can't afford to let it go wrong."

[ image: Imran Khan has pledged his services to the authorities]
Imran Khan has pledged his services to the authorities
Bhim Virmani, chairman of Manchester's Indian association, said: "Indians and Pakistanis walk the same streets here, spend their money in the same shops. There will be no trouble, just glorious cricket."

Muhammad Junejo, Virmani's Pakistani counterpart, agreed, saying: "This has not got to be seen as a battle between two rivals.

Kashmir Conflict
"In my life I work with Hindus and I work with Jews. We all get on, that is the truth of life - a good combination, a good chemistry.

"What is happening in Kashmir is not a war situation. It has been going on a long time between the two countries.

"Today we don't think of Kashmir, we think of the cricket."

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