Ponting defends decision to tour India

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Melbourne, Sep 18 (UNI) Defending the decision to tour India despite recent terrorist bomb attacks, captain Ricky Ponting made it clear that the players had been given the green light by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and independent security experts.

Ponting also added that the decision was not taken lightly.

His comments followed an outburst from Pakistan alleging favouritism by Cricket Australia (CA) in proceeding with a tour of India after twice refusing to visit Pakistan this year because of safety and security concerns.

''Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have obviously been in very close contact with Cricket Australia over the last few days,'' Ponting was quoted as saying by the 'Australian'.

''As we all know and has been outlined already, these are very different circumstances between India and Pakistan right at the moment and Cricket Australia has made that very clear.

''As captain of the side and as a player, right at the moment I am very comfortable to go on the advice of Cricket Australia and the players' association.'' While troubled all-rounder Andrew Symonds will not be flying out with the team on Sunday after being sent home from a one-day series in Darwin a fortnight ago for another breach of team discipline, Ponting was encouraged by news his star player was keen to return.

''I actually think there were some really positive signs over the last couple of days with Andrew,'' Ponting said.

''He's fronted the media and admitted that there's some room for improvement in certain parts of his life.'' UNI XC CS AB DS1223

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