- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 22, 2009

MUMBAI, INDIA (AP) - This year’s Indian Premier League cricket tournament will be held overseas because of security concerns since it coincides with the country’s general elections, organizers said Sunday.

Some players and officials had expressed concerns about playing on the subcontinent after this month’s terrorist attack on Sri Lanka’s cricket team in Lahore, Pakistan. India was also the victim of a terror attack in Mumbai in November which left 164 people dead.

Shashank Manohar, India’s cricket chief, said organizers were looking for a venue outside India after the government refused to approve the tournament schedule because security forces would be occupied with the elections.

The 59-match tournament is to be held April 10 to May 24, while the elections for the lower house of India’s Parliament will take place across the country in five different phases between April 16 and May 13.

Indian officials said they have begun talks with the England and Wales Cricket Board and Cricket South Africa about the possibility of one of them hosting the tournament.

League chairman Lalit Modi said he was hopeful of announcing the venue and final schedule Monday.

“It’s going to be exorbitantly prohibitive to move the tournament out of the country,” he said. “We may not make any profit.”

Indian’s Interior Ministry had suggested that the tournament be postponed until after the elections, but league officials didn’t want to change the dates because it would be difficult to find another slot in a crowded international calendar.

Earlier this month, gunmen ambushed the Sri Lankan cricket team as it traveled to a stadium in Pakistan. Seven players, an assistant coach and a match official were injured, and six policemen and a driver were killed.

Bangladesh canceled a cricket tour this month by Pakistan after authorities said they were unable to provide adequate security to a visiting team in the wake of a mutiny by border guards last month that cost the lives of more than 70 people in Dhaka.

Since it was formed last year, the Indian Premier League has transformed Indian cricket by introducing cheerleaders, major endorsements and some of the world’s most highly paid players. The tournament uses the Twenty20 format, in which games can be finished within three hours compared to several days for traditional forms of cricket.



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