ODI World Cup 2023: Security concerns force Pakistan vs New Zealand warm-up to be played behind closed doors
The ODI World Cup warm-up clash between Pakistan and New Zealand, scheduled for September 29 in Hyderabad, has been relocated behind closed doors. This decision arises from the local police's inability to guarantee sufficient security due to religious festivals.
The ODI World Cup warm-up match between Pakistan and New Zealand, originally scheduled for September 29 in Hyderabad, will now take place without any spectators in attendance. This decision comes as a result of the local police in Hyderabad expressing their inability to provide adequate security for the game due to concurrent festivals taking place in the area. The Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) has communicated this development to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
This news, initially reported by the Indian Express on Monday, has implications for the fans who had purchased tickets for the match. It remains uncertain whether Bookmyshow, the ticketing partners for the World Cup, has informed the fans about this change. The BCCI, responsible for the ticketing process, has not issued a public update on the matter at this time.
The status of the Pakistan vs. New Zealand warm-up game, scheduled as a day-night fixture, had been uncertain since the HCA received information from local police indicating their challenges in meeting the security requirements mandated by the ICC for World Cup matches, including warm-up games. These security concerns arose due to two significant religious festivals occurring around the same time as the match, which typically involve large gatherings.
K Durga Prasad, who assists in managing the HCA, confirmed that security considerations were a primary factor behind the decision. He stated, "The BCCI is expected to decide whether the warm-up game between Pakistan and New Zealand on September 29 in Hyderabad will proceed behind closed doors, given the authorities' concerns about providing security, as it coincides with the immersion of Lord Ganesh idols."
Although the HCA had apprised the BCCI of the situation, they remained optimistic about conducting the match as scheduled by preparing a contingency plan in case the match date couldn't be altered. With tickets already sold and broadcast plans finalized, changing the match date was not feasible.
Earlier in August, Hyderabad police had raised security concerns following adjustments to the original schedule, resulting in the city hosting consecutive matches on October 9 and 10. This rearrangement was a consequence of nine fixtures being rescheduled after the India vs. Pakistan match had to be moved forward by one day, from October 15 to October 14, due to overlapping with the beginning of the Navratri festival.
In addition to the HCA's situation, the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) had also requested the BCCI to reschedule a November fixture due to a conflict with the Kali Pujo festival. In response, the BCCI accommodated the request as part of its rescheduling efforts involving nine matches.
Hyderabad is one of three venues, along with Thiruvananthapuram and Guwahati, designated to host the warm-up matches for the tournament, taking place from September 29 to October 3, before the official start of the World Cup on October 5.