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Thursday, January 21, 1999 Published at 07:38 GMT

World: South Asia

India aims to stump protests

Guarding the boundaries: Security is high at venues

Pakistan's cricket team is arriving in Delhi amid high security as preparations build for their first Test match against India in more than a decade.

The BBC's Daniel Lak: "The government says both the pitch and the police are ready for anything"
Politicians on both sides have called for tolerance and calm ahead of the match, coming less than a year after both countries carried out nuclear tests.

But despite the Indian government's insistence that the sport should be the focus of attention, one Hindu nationalist party says it is determined to continue a campaign of opposition to the test matches.

Police have confirmed that at least 30 people are being held under preventative detention rules in Tamil Nadu as fears for the safety of the players continues.

[ image: Some protestors are angry at those suspected of seeking to disrupt the tour]
Some protestors are angry at those suspected of seeking to disrupt the tour
Police officials insist that all "adequate measures " are in place to ensure that the series takes place without incident.

Hindu militants have already forced the tour schedule to be changed by digging up the pitch at Delhi. The first Test will now begin in Madras on January 28.

On Monday, an unidentified group broke into the headquarters of India's Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which had shifted its office to Calcutta, wounding one official in the process.

Leading politicians, including the vice-president of the ruling BJP, pointed the finger at the militant Hindu party Shiv Sena - but the party has denied any involvement.

However, Shiv Sena had vowed to go "to any lengths" to prevent the tour going ahead.

While India's cricket team returned from touring New Zealand to a secret location, the opposition congress party staged rallies in Bombay and Delhi calling for the arrest of Bal Thackeray, leader of Shiv Sena.

In a last-ditch effort to head off trouble, the Home Affairs Minister L K Advani flew to Bombay for talks with Mr Thackeray.

Politician named tour boss

Pakistan has named its former foreign secretary Shahryar Khan as team manager.

The BBC's Harry Peart: "Both governments want the cricket to go on"
Khalid Mahmood, chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, said: "Because of the tour being very sensitive, we felt we needed someone like him.

"Naturally there is a feeling of concern and anxiety. I hope we can focus on cricket."

Speaking to the BBC, Wasim Akram, captain of the Pakistan side, blamed a minority of people for attempting to ruin the sport.

"It definitely means a lot to play in India," he said.

"I have played there before as a young man and it is always fun as long as people are relaxed.

India's Home Affairs Minister LK Advani said: "I have said it earlier and my government has also made its stand clear that politics should not be brought into arts, sports and culture.

"It would be nice if all countries came together, played sports and forged closer ties in the field of art and culture."

The two sides have not played a Test match since 1987 but have played one-day internationals.

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