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World T20: Pakistan cricket team arrives in Kolkata

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Kolkata: After finally getting a green signal from Islamabad to take part in the ICC World T20 tournament, the Pakistan cricket team on Saturday night arrived at the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose (NSCB) International Airport in Kolkata.

The Shahid Afridi-led side arrived at the airport amidst heavy security.

Pakistan will play a warmup game against Sri Lanka at the Eden Gardens on Monday before opening their World T20 campaign against one of the qualifiers on Wednesday.

Pakistan will to play their opening match against the first-round qualifier in Kolkata on March 16.

Earlier, the Pakistan squad including 15 players, 12 officials and support staff reached the Allama Iqbal international airport, Lahore, amidst tight security and boarded a flight hours after the Pakistan government finally gave the PCB the green signal to fly to India.

According to the Dawn, following the security assurance given by the relevant quarters in India and the ICC, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan approved Pakistan’s participation in the tournament.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Shaharyar Khan told reporters in Lahore that the players were given the option to pullout if they felt any security threat but added that all 15 squad members expressed their desire to play in the tournament.

“We want cricketing ties to remain active … Our hope is that our cricketing relations [between India and Pakistan] remain intact,” Khan said.

Najam Sethi, chairman of the cricket board’s executive committee had revealed that the Pakistan High Commissioner in New Delhi Abdul Basit had met Rajnath Singh, Minister of Home Affairs of India, to discuss the matter and was satisfied with the security arrangements put in place.

“Subsequently, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has also approved Pakistan’s participation in the T20 World Cup. The team is completely ready and hopefully they will fly to Dubai tonight and then from there will leave straight for India,” he added.

Teh major development unfolded after the West Bengal state government issued a “public guarantee” of security to the Pakistan for their highly anticipated match against India in Kolkata.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee gave a written assurance of ‘foolproof security’ to the Pakistan squad.

The ICC has already moved Pakistan’s group match against India to Kolkata on March 19 due to security concerns in Dharamsala. (ANI)

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