OCA defends decision to host Pak eves in WC

Faced with protests, the Odisha Cricket Association (OCA) has defended its decision to host matches involving Pakistan in the women’s World Cup beginning on January 31.

“We are hosting an international event and Pakistan is just a participating team. Our efforts will enhance the reputation of the state and its people as well as the cricket establishment,” said OCA President Ranjib Biswal.

Several local organisations and individuals have voiced their opposition to the decision to shift Pakistan’s matches to Odisha after fears of protests in Mumbai, the original venue. “We have vowed not to allow the Pakistan team to step into the state. We will start our protest right from the airport,” said Hemanta Rath, the president of Kalinga Sena.

Other organisations who have announced to launch an agitation on the issue and have submitted memoranda to the state government and the OCA included Utkal Bharat and saffron outfit Bajrang Dal. The students’ union of a leading university in the state, the Cuttack-based Ravenshaw University, has also declared to join the protest.

The Pakistan women’s cricket team is scheduled to arrive here on January 26 to participate in Group B matches of the World Cup.  Australia, New Zealand and South Africa are the other Group B teams. The matches will be played at Barabati Stadium in Cuttack and another ground at Tangi near the coastal Odisha town.

Significantly, a section of the ruling BJD have also opposed the matches involving Pakistan.

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