Security is the buzzword with terror threat in the air

Security is the buzzword with terror threat in the air

Not a problem, says Indian skipper Dhoni

Security is the buzzword  with terror threat in the air

Anything there? A security guard checks out the pitch at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Saturday. AFP

Scores of Rajasthan Police personnel and members of the elite ERT, armed with machine guns, maintained a strict vigil even as sniffer dogs were pressed into service to ‘secure’ the venue.

The ground has also been ‘swept’ to ferret out possible explosives as the authorities are leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the match is incident-free off the field. The Indian Air Force has been placed on alert to check any possibility of an aerial strike, with the air space over the city being closely monitored.

The police and security personnel easily topped the four-figure mark, with many more expected to enter the fray on Sunday to form a three-ring security apparatus. Spectators have been banned from carrying cell phones, water bottles, eatables and inflammatory materials into the stadium, which in any case is increasingly becoming the norm at Indian centres these days.

Not the ideal scenario

It isn’t quite the ideal scenario under which to be playing a high-stake game of international cricket, but the players themselves are more than comfortable with the arrangements, particularly because it is for their own benefit.

“Obviously, it is sad, what has happened, and it’s sad when you have so much security with the threats and all that,” South African stand-in captain Jacques Kallis said. “We’ve come to a country like India, all we are really interested in is playing cricket.”

On Friday, a security team from South Africa visited Jaipur to ascertain for themselves that all was in order, after which the team was given the all-clear to fly out from Kolkata. “We have been advised by all the security guys that the correct measures have been taken, that security is in place and it is as good as security is going to get,” added Kallis. “The guys are pretty comfortable because otherwise, we wouldn’t be here. We are just here to play the cricket and let the security guys take care of that, which they have done.”

India’s cricketers are more accustomed to heightened security, even if they are in the privileged position of being on the inside looking out. Mahendra Singh Dhoni said the huge numbers of police and security forces didn’t fluster him or his team. “Outside the field, if the number of policemen gets raised from 200 to 400, you don’t really get affected,” Dhoni noted. “You do see loads of policemen around the stadium but at the end of the day, when you walk into the field, it is just 11 players, two umpires and two batsmen. The crowd inside the field remains the same. It is for our own security, so I don’t think it is a real problem for us.”

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