A day after Sena protested at the BCCI headquarters against India-Pakistan cricket talks, some Pakistani commentators and umpires have opted out of the ongoing India-South Africa series being held in India.
Fearing more protests, former Pakistan pacers Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar have pulled out from the commentary team for the fifth and final ODI between India and South Africa in Mumbai.
Akram’s agent Arsalan Haider confirmed that the pair would do the commentary for the fourth ODI in Chennai at the MA Chidambaram Stadium but return to Pakistan on October 23, two days before the Mumbai match on October 25.
“Wasim Akram & Shoaib Akhtar will not be commentating in the last ODI between #IndvsSA on account of potential security hazard,” tweeted Haider.
This comes a day after ICC pulled out Pakistan umpire Aleem Dar from officiating in the remaining two matches of the same ODI series between India and South Africa.
Dar, who is a member of the Elite Panel of ICC Umpires, had officiated in the first three matches and was also scheduled to umpire in the fourth and fifth ODIs in Chennai and Mumbai.
“Under the present circumstances, it will be unreasonable to expect from Aleem that he will be able to perform his duties to the best of his abilities. As such, he has been withdrawn and his replacement will be announced in due course,” an ICC spokesman said on Monday evening.
ICC’s decision came even though BCCI Secretary Anurag Thakur had said that there was no threat to Dar from the Shiv Sena.
“There was a possibility of a protest in Saurashtra as well. 50,000 people were supposed to turn up in Rajkot. So I am not going into any threat perception. The fact is that India will also host the T20 World Cup in 2016 and it is the responsibility of every Indian to keep our image of sportsmanship alive,” Thakur had said.
The ICC made the decision after the Mumbai incident where a group of Sena activists stormed the BCCI office and threatened to prevent the umpire from standing in the fifth ODI in Mumbai.
Manohar and Khan were to discuss the resumption of the Indo-Pak cricket ties and unofficial talks might be held in Delhi tomorrow.
On Monday morning, hundreds of Shiv Sena protesters forcefully entered the BCCI office and gheraoed BCCI chief Shanshank Manohar and threatened him to cancel his talks with Pakistan Cricket Board chief Shahryar Khan. The two were scheduled to meet at the same venue to discuss a bilateral cricket series between India and Pakistan.
(With inputs from PTI)