5 Mar 2009

India wants Twenty20 matches postponed

9:29 pm on 5 March 2009

The Indian government wants cricket's IPL Twenty20 tournament in April to be postponed, saying its priority is to provide security for general elections occurring at the same time.

India is already jittery after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai by Islamic gunmen in November and Tuesday's armed attack against the Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan.

Up to 14 gunmen took part in the attack which killed six policemen and a driver, and injured members of the Sri Lankan squad on Tuesday.

It deals a further blow to hopes for a big money-spinning cricket season in India, as calls mount for the Premier League to be postponed due to safety concerns.

At stake is a tournament that has generated more than $US900 million in television rights, and tens of millions in advertising, players' fees, merchandising and tickets plus knock-on benefits for the travel and tourism sectors.

Sponsors of the IPL include Coca-Cola, Pepsico, Vodafone, Hero Honda, airline and drinks giant Kingfisher and telecom giant Airtel.

The aftermath of the attack on the cricketers in Lahore has sparked questions over whether big-name stars signed up by the IPL will dare set foot in India because of security worries.

But IPL bosses insist the show must go on - a position that could spark a backlash even among cricket-crazy Indians.

The IPL is due to be played across 10 cities in India from 10 April 10 to 24 May 24. The parliamentary elections will be held in five phases between 16 April and 13 May, with counting of votes on 16 May.