Cricket and politics in a time of terror
Cricket-crazy Indians are worried that this season's games will be cancelled because of security fears. The Indian Premier League (IPL) generates more than $900 million in television rights, and tens of millions in players' salaries, merchandising, advertising, ticket sales, travel and tourism.
But the Indian government wants to reschedule the IPL matches due to start next month. Its priority is to provide security for the country's general elections taking place at the same time. India was shaken by last November's terrorist attacks in Mumbai by Islamist extremists, and the recent assault on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan has added to the fears.
Former England cricket coach Duncan Fletcher wrote in The Guardian that "the attacks in Mumbai called into question even the safety of the best hotels," making it hard for players to concentrate on the game. But the IPL insists the show will go on and says it will hire private security companies to protect the players. "This is absurd," wrote Hindustan Times editor Vir Sanghvi. "Show me a private security agency that can fight global terrorism and I'll show you a jihadi who wants peace and love."
The IPL is scheduled to be played in eight cities from 10 April to 24 May. India's parliamentary elections will be held between 16 April and 13 May.