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The Pakistan women's cricket team will play their World Cup group matches in Orissa. Orissa Cricket Association president Ranjib Biswal said all Group B matches — starting with the inaugural game between Australia and Pakistan on January 31 — will be played at Cuttack's Barabati and DRIEMS stadiums.
New Zealand, South Africa and Australia are the other teams in Group B. There was no clarity until Friday evening on the venue for the knockout stages — a significant decision in the event of Pakistan going through.
"We were surprised when BCCI proposed that the matches should be held in Orissa. We received an email two days ago and immediately said yes," Biswal said.
Though Biswal said Orissa had never "made a pitch for hosting", sources in the association said they had shown willingness to hold the matches even as Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Delhi backed off amid the tension on the LoC. The secretary of the association, Ashirbad Behera, said an ICC team would visit Orissa on January 22 to inspect pitches and "take a final call".
Even though DGP Prakash Mishra said he was unaware that Orissa would host the matches, Biswal said he was "sure" there would be no disruptions. "We hope there will be no security issues in Orissa. It's a peaceful state. We are sure all the six matches will be held peacefully," Biswal said.
At the BCCI working committee meeting this week, board chief N Srinivasan had asked ICC to take a final call on the venue of the tournament, originally scheduled to be played entirely in Mumbai. ICC tournament director Suru Nayak spoke to the local police, who while promising security, expressed an apprehension of possible disruptions by the Shiv Sena.
BCCI approached Ahmedabad as an alternative, but Gujarat Cricket Association — headed by Chief Minister Narendra Modi — expressed its inability to host Pakistan. Indore was considered next, but not pursued seriously under the assumption that another BJP-ruled state was unlikely to be accommodative. Kolkata and Bangalore too were suggested, but the ICC was reportedly not keen.