England team returns to India amid tight security

Overcoming the terror scare, the England team returned on Monday in two batches to resume their Indian tour which was interrupted by the Mumbai carnage.

updated: December 09, 2008 19:04 IST
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Overcoming the terror scare, the England team returned on Monday in two batches to resume their Indian tour which was interrupted by the Mumbai carnage.

The full-strength 16-member team led by Kevin Pietersen landed here from the UAE, the first batch reached here from Abu Dhabi followed by another from neighbouring Dubai within 20 minutes of each other. The contingent consists of 28 people, including support staff.

The team, which had left India on November 28 after abandoning the last two of the seven-match ODI series in the wake of the terror attacks, will play the first Test here from Thursday at the M A Chidambaram stadium which replaced Mumbai as the venue.

The second Test is scheduled to be held at Mohali from December 19 although England has to formally confirm it.

Tight security arrangements had been made at the airport for the arrival of the team which got the final go-ahead to tour India late on Sunday following the security clearance from the England and Wales Cricket Board's security advisor Reg Dickason.

Immediately upon arrival, the team was taken out of the airport from a separate gate and driven straight to the hotel where fool-proof security cover had been provided.

There was tight security cover which was not normally witnessed at the Chennai airport.

Tamil Nadu intelligence police personnel were present at the tarmac when the players arrived in two batches, the first one by an Etihad Airlines from Abu Dhabi which landed at 7.50 pm and the second arriving by an Emirates Airlines flight from Dubai at 8.20 pm.

Fifteen members of the England contingent arrived from Abu Dhabi and other 13 had boarded the flight from Dubai.

Tamil Nadu police attended to the immigration formalities of the players, after which gun-wielding CISF personnel escorted them from the Customs Area to their bus parked close to the arrival gate.

SAG Commandos then formed a human chain to make a passage way for the players from the arrival gate to the bus. The two sets of England contingent boarded two separate buses from airport to the hotel.

A Pilot Car, vehicles of top police officials and a 'delta' van with 20 Commandos with AK 47 rifles drove behind the bus carrying the players.

Meanwhile, the English players are scheduled to have a practice session from 0900 to 1200 hrs tomorrow and will get just two days to get acclimatised to the conditions before the first Test gets underway.

The England players were training in Abu Dhabi pending the security clearance. Dickason's report had found India to be safe, paving the decks for the resumption of cricketing activities.

The players were given a detailed feedback on the security arrangements that would be put in place for the series.

After nearly two hours of discussions at the team hotel in Abu Dhabi involving players, ECB's managing director Hugh Morris and Professional Cricketers Association (EPCA) Chief Executive Sean Morris and Dickason, it was announced that the Test series would go ahead as per schedule.

In a bid to salvage the tour, the BCCI had come out with a revised itinerary choosing Chennai and Mohali as the new venues instead of Ahmedabad and terror-hit Mumbai. The three-day warm-up match against Board President's XI in Vadodara was also cancelled.