Australian cricketers in Chandigarh, Taj turns into fortress

The Australian cricket team arrived here on Monday for a 16-day stay, the longest for any foreign cricket team in the city.

The heavy duty security arrangement comes days after two Taiwanese tourists were injured in a shooting incident at Delhi's Jama Masjid.

The road facing the entry gate of Taj has been blocked and traffic has been diverted to other routes. A Quick Reaction Team (QRT) vehicle and two Police Control Room (PCR) vehicles are also stationed right outside the hotel, located in the heart of the city.

"It is an extended stay of the Australian cricket team in Chandigarh. Therefore, special arrangements have been made after considering all security parameters," Sushil Kapoor, manager of Australian cricket team, told IANS.

"We are in close touch with our Australian counterparts. Both the team management and players are very happy with the arrangements. The police are very cooperative and we will make sure that no untoward incident takes place during the stay of the Australian team," Kapoor said.

The Australian cricket team will play a three-day warm-up match against the President's XI team at the Sector 16 stadium beginning on Thursday. The stadium is also the home ground of India's World Cup winning captain Kapil Dev.

Following the warm-up game, the team will play the first of the two Test matches for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) stadium in neighbouring Mohali Oct 1-5.

"Security personnel have been deployed at various sensitive locations in the hotel and at the cricket stadium where the Australian team will practice and play a warm-up match," Roshan Lal, deputy superintendent of police and security in-charge of Australian team, told IANS.

"We have placed barricades on the road facing Taj and traffic has been diverted to other routes. We are doing thorough frisking of every individual coming to this hotel. Besides our own forces, officials of the Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) are also deployed at all corners of the hotel," he added.

Australian captain Ricky Ponting expressed satisfaction over the security arrangements.
"We trust the people here and the special advisory issued by CA (Cricket Australia). Before our arrival at any venue, special security team accompanied by the officials of CA goes to the spot to evaluate the security arrangements," Ponting said.

"We are quite satisfied with the security arrangements," he added.

To ensure smooth conduct of the India-Australia Test match, Mohali police have also started their preparations.

"Mohali test match is an important event for us and we have already beefed up the security in the district. We are in contact with the officials of Punjab intelligence and are also keeping an eye on all antisocial elements," said Senior Superintendent of Police Gurpreet Singh Bhullar.

"Senior officials will be deployed and CCTV cameras will be installed at various places in the PCA stadium," Bhullar added.

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