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Indian team arrives in Pakistan

March 10, 2004 16:59 IST

India's cricketers arrived in Pakistan amid heavy security on Wednesday for their first full tour of the country in more than 14 years.
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The long-awaited one-day and Test series comes amid thawing political relations between the nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours.

Ramiz Raja, the chief executive of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) greeted the Indian squad at the Allama Iqbal airport, surrounded by hundreds of police and paramilitary troops.

India will play a warm-up match in Lahore, close to the Indian border, on Thursday before travelling to the southern port city of Karachi for the first of five one-day internationals on Saturday.

Pakistani authorities have promised tight security after several international cricket visits were cancelled or curtailed over the last two years due to violence linked to Islamic militants.

Syed Masood Shah, chief of police in the province of Punjab where Lahore is located, said this week that 3,500 police officers would be deployed at Rawalpindi stadium for the second one-dayer next Tuesday.

"We have looked into all security aspects in minute detail and in all places, and inshallah (God willing) they will come and leave happily from here," he told reporters.

The Indian government last year lifted a ban on home and away matches against Pakistan imposed following tensions over the disputed Himalayan state of Kashmir.

The two countries, with a combined population of more than one billion people, revere both the sport and their leading players.

Police used force last week to control fans queuing to buy tickets for the opening game in Karachi. When sales resumed on Monday, 21,000 tickets were snapped up within hours.

India play five one-day internationals between March 13 and March 24, and begin the first of three Tests in Multan on March 28. The tour ends on April 17.

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