New Delhi: A 27-member Pakistan cricket contingent left for India to take part in the Twenty20 World Cup, finally ending days of uncertainty over their participation in the mega event. The team will be reaching Kolkata via Abu Dhabi.
The Pakistan squad including 15 players, 12 officials and support staff reached the Allama Iqbal international airport amidst tight security and boarded a flight hours after the Pakistan government finally gave the PCB the green signal to fly to India to take part in the ICC event. Due to a long stay in Abu Dhabi the squad will reach Kolkata later this evening.
The West Bengal government and Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar have promised special security measures for the Pakistan men's team during their Super 10 Group 2 tie against India at the Eden Gardens on March 19, which also played a major part in the decision. Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit also had a meeting with officials in the Ministry of Home Affairs after which the decision to send the national men's and women's teams was announced.
Head coach Waqar Younis, before departing for India, left a message on his Twitter account calling for unity in the team. "Come on together we can do it," he tweeted a message aimed at motivating the players.
He told the media that though the departure of the team for India had been hit by uncertainty and security issues, the focus of the players now would only be on cricket and doing well in the world event.
"We know that in India we will get a lot of hospitality because many of the players and officials have been to India before and they have seen this," he said.
Waqar said that he had told the players to only focus on cricket and leave security issues to the boards and experts. "We will take one match at a time and we are not thinking right now about the match against India on March 19. First we have to play Bangladesh and get past them. They are a very improved side now and have been hard to beat at home," he said.
The Pakistan contingent includes manager Intikhab Alam, the experienced former Test captain and a high profile security manager.
The Pakistani teams were originally scheduled to depart for India on Tuesday evening. But the departure was delayed by the PCB as they awaited the report of a three-member team sent to review security arrangements in India.