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Wednesday, January 13, 1999 Published at 17:28 GMT

World: South Asia

India-Pakistan cricket match moved

Madras' Chepauk ground is the new venue

The first Test match of Pakistan's forthcoming tour of India has been moved from the capital Delhi to the southern city of Madras following sabotage threats by Hindu extremists.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India said the match would start on 28 January with the second Test being played in Delhi from 4 February.

[ image: Pakistan's captain Wasim Akram says he is looking forward to the tour]
Pakistan's captain Wasim Akram says he is looking forward to the tour
Pakistani captain Wasim Akram said on Wednesday he felt that politics and cricket should be kept separate.

"The Indians definitely want Pakistan to come and I hope we will play good cricket. My boys are working hard," he said.

Last week Hindu extremists of the Shiv Sena party dug up the pitch at Delhi's Ferozeshah Kotla cricket ground, and threatened to sabotage the first Test.

It has been more than a decade since Pakistan played Test matches in India. The Shiv Sena has sought for years to thwart sporting and cultural links between India and Pakistan and has said it will "go to any length" to stop the tour taking place.

Tight security

Police have tightened security around the Kotla ground and the Indian cricket board has ordered other centres hosting matches against Pakistan to do the same.

[ image: Many cricket fans are opposed to the Shiv Sena's actions]
Many cricket fans are opposed to the Shiv Sena's actions
The Indian Home Ministry had argued for a change of venue because the first Test coincided with a busy period for the Delhi police.

India's Republic Day falls on 26 January and the anniversary of the assassination of independence leader Mahatma Gandhi on 30 January.

A third Test is scheduled in Calcutta. It will also be the first match of an Asian Test championship with Sri Lanka as the third team.

Cricket envoy

[ image: Officials say the damage to Delhi's pitch was
Officials say the damage to Delhi's pitch was "minimal"
On a visit to the northern city of Lucknow, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said his coalition government, which includes the Shiv Sena party, would ensure that the tour passed off peacefully.

"It is the duty of the government," he said.

A special envoy from the Pakistan Cricket Board is due to hold talks in Calcutta about security for the forthcoming tour.

Brigadier Rafi Saeed is expected to meet the Indian cricket board general secretary, Jayawant Lele, and the president of the International Cricket Council, Jagmohan Dalmiya.

Earlier he met Indian Government officials and representatives from the Pakistan High Commission.

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