India vs Pakistan will be played in front of India's most iconic stadium and with a lot more fans cheering their team on than there would have been in Dharamsala. Owing to Pakistan's security concerns regarding the World T20 2016 match, which is scheduled for March 19, being held in Himachal Pradesh, the ICC took the step of changing the venue, allotting the marquee WT20 match to the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
The decision was always on the cards, really, after the Pakistan security team admitted their reservations over holding the match in Dharamsala, and with the Pakistan cricket team already scheduled to play their opening match in Kolkata – and two warmup games as well – Eden Gardens was an obvious choice to make.
"The decision has been taken following consultation with the BCCI, the relevant state associations, the ICC and BCCI security consultant and other relevant authorities," ICC chief executive Dave Richardson said in a statement.
"The decision to relocate the match has been made for security reasons. The concerns initially arose following alleged public comments recently reported by the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, warning of demonstration and attempts to disrupt the peaceful conduct of the match.
"Our concerns relate both to uncertainty as to the level of those threats as well as the level of commitment to implement any security plan developed to mitigate such treats."
It took a while for the ICC and BCCI to make the decision, even if it always seemed inevitable, and Richardson admitted the organisers took everything into consideration before deciding to allocate the India vs Pakistan match – which will, undoubtedly be the most watched contest in the Super 10 phase of the World T20 – to Eden Gardens.
"The decision was not taken lightly. ICC and the BCCI understand the disappointment that is likely to be felt by many over the decision to move the match. But the safety and security of the event is of paramount importance to the ICC and we have taken into consideration the concerns shared with us by our security advisors as well as Pakistan Cricket Board."
Eden Gardens also works because more fans will get an opportunity to watch the match now, after the online demand for tickets went over ten times the actual availability. For those who have bought the tickets, the ICC will either give a full refund or they can exchange their Dharamsala tickets with Kolkata ones.
"As far as those who have purchased tickets online for the match, they will be offered the choice of a full refund or the opportunity to exchange their tickets for ones for the Kolkata match."
Richardson also assured everyone concerned that all security measures will be taken to ensure the World T20 goes through smoothly.
"Finally, I would like to confirm that the ICC has been assured by all relevant state authorities that all adequate security measure are in place and will be implemented to ensure that the event is staged in a safe and secure environment for all stakeholders."