The tension between India and Pakistan may have forced the Board of Control for Cricket in India's hand at shifting India's ODI match against Australia out of Mohali.
India is slated to play against Australia on March 10 at the I.S. Bindra PCA Stadium but mid-day reports that sources in the BCCI indicated to them that the ODI will be shifted due to security concerns. They further state that the match could now be hosted in either Lucknow or Rajkot.
This call comes after the recent air combat between India and Pakistan which happened earlier this week. In the early hours of Tuesday, February 26, Indian air force fighters struck terror camps across the Line of Control (LoC) in retaliation to the Pulwama terror attack which was carried out by a Pakistani-based terrorist group called Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).
Reports stated that 12 Mirage 2000 jets took part in the operation that dropped nearly thousand-kilogram laser-guided bombs across the LoC. The pre-dawn attack destroyed terror pads in Balakot, Chakoti and Muzaffarabad, as well as Alpha-3 control rooms of JeM. According to reports by the Indian media, around 200-300 terrorists were killed in the process.
Following this, on the very next day, an F-16 fighter jet of the Pakistan Air Force violated the Indian air space and crossed border areas of Jammu and Kashmir's Rajouri district. But this F-16 was shot down by Indian retaliatory fire 3 kilometres with Pakistani territory in Lam valley. In this air combat, an IAF pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman ended up in the custody of Pakistani security forces.
Since then, Pakistan PM Imran Khan, in his address to the parliament, announced that Pakistan will be releasing the "Indian pilot" as a peace gesture. Abhinandan is expected to return to India today, March 1.
Despite calls for a de-escalation of tension between the neighbouring countries, the situation remains delicate and hence the BCCI is rightly concerned about the security of the players. The stadium in Mohali is in very close proximity to a key Indian Air Force base and is located directly in its flight path. This was the reason why it was not given permission to erect conventional tall light towers. The stadium is also pretty close to the Wagah Border that separates India from Pakistan.
The fifth ODI at Delhi could also be shifted under the circumstances. If it does happen, BCCI is looking at Kolkata and Bengaluru as possible replacements.
The five-match ODI series between India and Australia starts on March 2 in Hyderabad.