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Page last updated at 12:34 GMT, Thursday, 27 November 2008

Champions League cricket on hold

By Oliver Brett and Simon Austin

Taj Mahal Palace hotel
Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace hotel was still burning on Thursday

India's Champions League cricket tournament in which eight teams, including England's Middlesex were set to take part, has been postponed.

Mumbai was the scene of a deadly terror attack on Wednesday.

A meeting will be held in December and organisers say they remain hopeful the tournament can take place next year.

Lalit Modi, chairman of the Champions League board, told BBC Sport: "We couldn't get a third venue to replace Mumbai at such short notice."

Modi said the teams were "all ready to come", but by the time the postponement was announced Middlesex had already cancelled their travel plans for Thursday.

They had been due to stay at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, one of the chief targets of Wednesday's attack - and where explosions continued on Thursday. It was also the scene of hostage-taking.

Middlesex chief welcomes postponement

Middlesex chief executive Vinny Codrington told BBC Radio 5 Live: "I think [the postponement] is a very sensible decision. It would have been a great risk for us to have gone with the current situation as it is.

"The organisers are optimistic that the tournament will take place, I certainly don't think it will be this side of Christmas. Hopefully if security concerns are addressed we would love to go.

"We are very fortunate that we were due out there this evening [Thursday] rather than due out there last night.

"It's very frightening, absolutely frightening for the people staying in it. It's a splendid hotel, I'm personally a bit relieved that we're not there, but as it is we're very anxious for the people who are there."

Javed Akhtar, a spokesman for the tournament, told BBC Sport new dates would be decided at the December meeting.

He said he did not know when the rescheduled tournament was likely to take place, adding: "It all depends on which teams are free and which teams are available. There are so many permutations."

The exact date in December for the meeting has not yet been fixed.

Along with Middlesex, two teams from Australia, two from South Africa and one from Pakistan had been due to take part.

No amount of money is worth the risk with what is going on over there at the moment

Shane Warne
They would have joined the Indian Premier League champions, Rajasthan, and runners-up Chennai in an eight-nation Twenty20 tournament with the final on 10 December. The venues were Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai.

Middlesex had qualified for the first edition of the money-spinning tournament on the basis of winning English domestic cricket's Twenty20 Cup in July.

Australian star Shane Warne, captain-coach of Rajasthan Royals, was on a stopover in Singapore en route to Mumbai when he saw news reports on the terror attacks.

He told the Herald-Sun in Melbourne: "We are heading to Mumbai and that [the Taj Mahal] is the hotel we are staying at. I don't think we will be going (to India) now - why would you?

"It is just not worth the risk. No amount of money is worth the risk with what is going on over there at the moment."

The news came soon after England announced they would not play their remaining two one-day internationals - in Guwahati and Delhi.

In a separate statement released to general media, Modi added: "We very strongly condemn this dastardly and heinous criminal act of a few which has resulted in the loss of precious lives and injury to hundreds.

"We offer our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and we are with them in their hour of grief."

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see also
Champions League fixtures
27 Nov 08 |  Cricket
Forces fight through siege hotels
27 Nov 08 |  South Asia
Nixon says England should go home
27 Nov 08 |  Leicestershire
Mumbai rocked by deadly attacks
27 Nov 08 |  South Asia
Witnesses tell of Mumbai violence
27 Nov 08 |  South Asia
Mumbai journalist on attacks
26 Nov 08 |  South Asia

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Sky News Mumbai Terror Carnage - 26 mins ago
Sporting Life MIDDLESEX DELAY INDIA TRIP - 50 mins ago
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