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Page last updated at 14:56 GMT, Monday, 8 December 2008

England squad lands back in India


England's return to India was marked by heavy security

The England cricket team has arrived in Chennai amid unprecedented security levels ahead of the two-Test series against India which starts on Thursday.

They landed on Monday evening and were immediately whisked away to their coach by scores of heavily armed guards.

During their time in Chennai, they will be protected by more than 5,000 security guards drawn from India's police force and commando units.

England flew home from India after the 26 November terror attacks in Mumbai.

BBC Sport's Joe Wilson, reporting from Chennai, said: "Hundreds of locals were here to see England's players as they arrived.

If we can spread a bit of happiness by playing we're doing our job, but we want to go and win

England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff
"But they were kept away from the players by dozens of commandos in their green uniforms as an obvious show of strength by India."

Chennai's joint commissioner of police, P Balasubramaniam, said: "We have positioned 300 commandos at the hotel and 1,000 policemen around it. These men will be on the job till the teams leave the city."

The senior players have received praise for their brave decision to return, but Andrew Flintoff insisted it was a decision taken by the whole team.

"We didn't want to get into a position where the team was split up," he said.

"One of the reasons I decided to go was for my team-mates. Throughout the one-day series in India, although we got beaten the spirit in the camp was really good and that is something we didn't want to lose."

The all-rounder admits the unusual circumstances will be tough for the players, however.

"It's going to be challenging, the environment in which the games are going to be played in," he said.

"There will be armed guards everywhere, closing off hotels, almost lockdown, but that's something we're going to have to face and we'll have to give a good account of ourselves.

"If we can spread a bit of happiness by playing we're doing our job, but we want to go and win. The sentiment is great but we want to win two Test matches."

International Cricket Council president David Morgan welcomed England's decision to go ahead with the tour and said: "All credit to the England and Wales Cricket Board and the team, I think they have made a very good decision, it's a very good statement.

"The people of India wanted this series to take place and I do hope the Indian public will turn out, welcome England and support the game of cricket.

"The world is a dangerous place but we shouldn't give in to terrorism."

After the one-day series between the two nations was cut short, the England squad initially flew home before heading for Abu Dhabi, where they trained at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, while they waited for the results of safety reports.

England return to India with a 15-man squad which includes the uncapped Kent pace bowler Amjad Khan, who was called up on Sunday.

Stuart Broad is included in the party, but is struggling to shake off a hamstring problem which has already ruled him out of the first Test.

Yorkshire leg-spinner Adil Rashid, 20, is travelling in addition to the 15 others in the squad for experience.

India captain Mahendra Dhoni landed in Chennai on Sunday, a day earlier than most of his team-mates.

The hosts were already practising at the city's MA Chidambaram Stadium by the time England arrived on Monday, and with so many locals at the airport they went about their business almost unnoticed.

Security remained extremely tight there, however, and even the media were prevented from getting too close to the players.

Photographers and television crews were restricted to the stands as members of India's Rapid Action Force patrolled the boundary.

The second Test is scheduled for Mohali and is set to start on Friday, 19 December.

Reg Dickason, the England and Wales Cricket Board's security adviser, will visit Mohali with Hugh Morris, managing director of England cricket, and Sean Morris, head of the England players' association, on Tuesday.

They are scheduled to conduct an inspection of the PCA Stadium and the team hotel. They will then meet various local officials, including ground, hotel and security personnel, the following day.

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see also
England to tour with full squad
07 Dec 08 |  England
England in training
08 Dec 08 |  England
England call up Khan and Rashid
07 Dec 08 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
07 Dec 08 |  England
England in India 2008
01 Dec 08 |  Cricket

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