England arrive in India amid high security

Chennai, December 8:

A full-strength England cricket team arrived here on Monday amid tight security to resume their India tour, which was thrown into doubt following the terror attacks in Mumbai.

England flew in from their training base in Abu Dhabi after receiving final security clearance on Sunday night. The pla-yers were whisked away to their hotel by heavily armed security personnel immediately after their arrival ahead of the first Test starting here on Thursday. The second Test will be played in Mohali from December 19.

Unprecedented security arrangements were deployed at the airport, with numerous gun-toting commandos and policemen at various points. “We have deployed over 5,000 security personnel drawn from police and commando units,” the Press Trust of India news agency quoted Joint Commissioner of Police P Balasubramaniam as saying on Monday.

“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.” England’s seven-match one-day series last month was cut short following the Mumbai attacks that left 172 dead. The tourists returned home after the last two games were cancelled with the hosts leading 5-0.

International Cricket Council chiefs spoke to officials from both countries while the Board of Control for Cricket in India promised the highest security and also changed the Test venues. The opening Test was shifted from Ahmedabad and the second from atrocity-hit Mumbai. Security advisor of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), Reg Dickason, arrived in Abu Dhabi on Sunday from India to deliver his assessment to the players. After an hour-and-a-half of discussions involving players, officials and Dickason, it was eventually confirmed that the Test series was going ahead.

However, doubts remain over whether Mohali will stage the second Test with Sean Morris, the chief executive of England’s Professional Cricketers Association, saying further investigation was needed.

ENGLAND SQUAD: Kevin Pietersen, Tim Ambrose, James Anderson, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Alastair Cook, Andrew Flintoff, Stephen Harmison, Amjad Khan, Monty Panesar, Matt Prior, Owais Shah, Andrew Strauss, Graeme Swann.