Sehwag urges Australians to tour India

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Sydney, Sept.15 : Indian batsman and Delhi resident Virender Sehwag has urged Australia to go ahead with its tour of the country in October and November.

Echoing Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary, Niranjan Shah's views on the security and safety of the players, Sehwag told the Sydney Morning Herald: "Delhi is not like Pakistan. For us today, it is back to a normal routine. There is no place in the world that is completely safe, even America. I think the Australians should tour."

Sehwag's comments assume significance in the wake of the Australian Cricketers' Association saying there will be no double standards in deciding whether the national team should proceed with its tour of India in the wake of Saturday's serial bomb blasts in New Delhi.

ACA chief Paul Marsh insisted that security assessments would be made impartially, and not swayed by the lucrative nature of an Indian tour compared with Pakistan.

Cricket Australia and ACA representatives will meet government and independent advisers today to discuss the Indian security situation.

The four-Test tour is scheduled to begin with a practice match against a Rajasthan Cricket Association's Centre of Excellence XI on September 27.

"I expect there will be heat if we decide to tour. As much as it's sometimes reported that we cancel series at the drop of a hat, that is simply not the case. We receive specific, expert advice from people who have served us well in the past, and we will consult them again. I would not say there is panic among the players I have spoken to, but there is a degree of concern," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Marsh, as saying.

"If the team stays in India, there might be some who criticize us for double standards. But people need to understand our starting point is that we always want to tour. We go to extreme lengths to obtain the best advice on the situation of each country we visit. In Pakistan's case this year, people we rely on told us not to tour. If they say not to tour again, we'll listen. Bombs going off anywhere are a concern," he added.

The Delhi bombings claimed over 20 lives on Saturday in the fourth large-scale terrorist attack in India since May. Over 150 people were also injured.

More than 180 people have been killed in bombings in Jaipur, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Delhi in that time, most of which have been targeted at the civilian population. A group named the Indian Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for the most recent bombings, in Ahmedabad and Delhi.

Australia are scheduled to play the first Test against India on October 9 in Bangalore, a city that was hit by eight synchronised bomb blasts in July. The third Test of the series is due to be played at Delhi's Feroz Shah Kotla on October 29.

Meanwhile, Australia's High Commissioner to India, John McCarthy, has offered his assistance should the Indian and Australian cricket boards contact him.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has not upgraded the travel warning to India, but has referenced the Delhi bombings on its website.

ANI

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