CUTTACK - In the wake of protests and threats by radical outfits, the Odisha Cricket Association (OCA) was forced to arrange separate accommodation for the Pakistan women’s team inside the Barbati Stadium in Cuttack, after five-star hotels showed reluctance to provide hospitality.
“The Pakistani players would have faced trouble while travelling from Bhubaneswar to Cuttack for the matches,” said OCA secretary Asirbad Behera. “So we have arranged for their accommodation on the Barabati Stadium premises.”
The women cricketers reached Cuttack from New Delhi on Sunday to participate in the ICC Women’s World Cup. The women cricketers, led by Sana Mir, were escorted by a heavy deployment which took them to the stadium.
According to the report, as most hotels in Bhubaneswar refused to host the Pakistani players under immense pressure and threats, the team will remain confined to the stadium throughout the tournament. However, the remaining group B teams playing their matches in Cuttack – Australia, New Zealand and South Africa – will stay in hotels in Bhubaneswar.
Right-wing outfits had warned hoteliers in Bhubaneswar against offering “hospitality to the Pakistani players”, following which posh hotels in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack withdrew, forcing the decision to house the players on the stadium premises.
However, the OCA promised the best lodging for the team at the stadium. “Accommodation for the Pakistan team became a headache,” an OCA official told The Times of India before adding that the decision was taken to ensure safety for the visitors.
“We will provide five-star facilities to the players at the Club House in the stadium. The Club House is equipped with a world class gymnasium and swimming pool", the official said. Nearly 600 security personnel, including officials, Special Security Battalion and Odisha police were deployed during the team’s arrival to ensure their safety on the way to the stadium.
Director General of Police (DGP) Prakash Mishra visited the stadium to review the security set-up and held discussions with OCA officials about the arrangements. Meanwhile, Pakistan team manager Ayesha Ashar said her side was well-prepared to put up an exciting performance in the World Cup.
“I am grateful for receiving a warm welcome from all the fans,” said Ayesha after her arrival in Cuttack. “I will ask Indian fans to come in numbers to watch our matches.”
"The arrangements are more like we get in Pakistan," Ashar was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India news agency. "We are happy with the facilities provided to us by the organisers." Pakistan open their campaign against Australia at the Barabati Stadium on Friday.
The Barabati Stadium Club House was chosen by the International Cricket Council for the Pakistani women cricketers. "The ICC considered all options and the best security for the teams," the ICC said in a statement. Cuttack was added as a venue only this month to accommodate Pakistan, and remove it from Mumbai, where the entire tournament was to have been staged. The Women's World Cup starts on Thursday. Pakistan's move also forced organisers to shift fellow Group B teams Australia, New Zealand and South Africa to Cuttack, as well as some Super Six and playoff games. However, the final will be in Mumbai on Feb 17. (Nation)