Sutherland alert, but not alarmed after blasts

A SENIOR Indian cricket official declared on Friday that next week’s second Test between Australia and India would not be shifted from Hyderabad despite the southern city being rocked by bombings that killed at least 13 people and injured more than 100.

At least two separate blasts occurred in a crowded area outside a movie theatre and a bus station in the southern city's suburb of Dilsukh Nagar from about 7pm on Thursday.

Hyderabad's Rajiv Gandhi Stadium is due to play host to the second of four Tests in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series between Australia and India. It is scheduled to begin on March 2 – with Michael Clarke's squad to arrive in the city next Wednesday after the conclusion of the first Test in Chennai, which began on Friday.

Rajeev Shukla, a senior Board of Control for Cricket in India figure who is also chairman of the Indian Premier League, said there was no reason to relocate the Test.

"After the BCCI President spoke to me, I spoke to Union Home Secretary, who was in Hyderabad and had discussion with the Chief Minister and officials of state government. After that he apprised me that adequate security will be provided to the players as well as the spectators. So Test match should not be shifted out of Hyderabad," Shukla said.

He added that the competing countries’ respective chairmen, N Srinivasan and Wally Edwards, were to speak on Friday afternoon to confirm the Test's status in Hyderabad.

"I have conveyed to the BCCI President who in turn is going to speak to the chairman of Cricket Australia to convey that when government is giving guarantee of safety and security of the players and the spectators, I think we should not change the venue,” Shukla said.

International Cricket Council security officials met with their counterparts from the BCCI in Delhi on Friday to discuss the incident and its potential ramifications for Hyderabad hosting the second Test.

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said Australia's team manager, Gavin Dovey, had sent players text messages on Thursday night updating them on the situation and the increased security presence that has been added as a result of the explosions.

Dozens of extra police surrounded the Chennai hotel where the Australian and Indian teams are staying on Friday morning.

“We don't hold anything back from the players, they know where everything is up to. But at the same time they have expressed a desire to be focused and minimise this so that they can focus on cricket this week,” Sutherland said.

"As far as I'm concerned we are playing the second Test in Hyderabad next week. That's where we are at. We've got great confidence in the BCCI and the relevant authorities here to be able to prepare as best as possible for whatever issues may change from day to day. We're very comfortable with everything that has been done so far on this tour."

Sutherland said there had been no concern expressed from the players but they would be kept updated. "All they are interested in right now is this Test match here in Chennai."

Australian captain Michael Clarke added: "From the team's point of view, our focus is wholly and solely on the field because we've got people off the field who are experts in what is going on, we'll be advised by them. Our thoughts and prayers are with all the people of
Hyderabad who have been affected."

Australian Cricketers' Association chief Paul Marsh said he had been in contact with the 17 players in Australia's touring squad and would engage the union's own security expert and liaise with Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Travellers are advised on the DFAT website to “exercise a high degree of caution in India at this time because of the risk of terrorism [and] civil unrest”.

"It's day one of a Test match so I don't want to distract (the players) but I've sent them all an email," Marsh said on Friday. "We also have own independent security advisor who assesses these type of situations. It's really about trying to understand what the level of risk is of going to Hyderabad. If the players have got any concerns they will voice them to me. But Cricket Australia has a very good security team around them.”

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