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Thursday, January 28, 1999 Published at 10:02 GMT

World: South Asia

Heavy security for Madras Test

The focus has turned to the battle on the pitch

Click here for match report
The start of the first cricket Test between India and Pakistan has passed off peacefully, despite earlier threats that hard-line Hindu nationalists would disrupt the game.

BBC Delhi Correspondent Daniel Lak: Cricket is just too important
The Test match - in the southern city of Madras - is the first between the two sides on Indian soil for 12 years.

Hundreds of millions of cricket fans across the sub-continent were expected to bring normal life in the region to a standstill as they followed play on radio and television.

On the field, India held the upper hand, bowling out Pakistan for 238 and closing the day at 48-0 in their first innings.

Heavy security

[ image: Before the match, Pakistani players visited the spastics society in Madras]
Before the match, Pakistani players visited the spastics society in Madras
Security around the ground was intense. More than 3,000 armed policemen 600 paramilitary troops were on duty, despite the lifting of threats by militant Hindu nationalists to disrupt play.

In previous weeks, supporters of the Shiv Sena party had shown they were serious by vandalising a pitch in Delhi and invading Cricket Board headquarters in Bombay.

But they called off their threats after pressure from the national government led by their political allies, the BJP.

Initial objections to the level of security in Madras by local media and cricket officials subsided after talks with the police.

Around 35,000 fans were in the stadium for the start of the match, with preparations being made to increase capacity as play goes on.

Officials said they expected great cricket and no trouble. BBC India Correspondent Daniel Lak said it appeared fans were hoping for the same thing.

In the event, the match got off to a rousing start, with the crowd cheering as the Indian players took the field.

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