Bangladesh Cricket Team Under Terror Threat At T20 World Cup, Tanks To Guard Stadium During Tigers Matches

The Bangladesh cricket team will come under threat of terrorist attack at the T20 Cricket World Cup in India next month, according to reports out of Bangladesh. The same reports say that heightened security measures are already being put in place for the Tigers participation in the prestigious tournament, which opens on March 8 with the first matches of the qualifying round for teams not ranked in the world top eight T20 teams by the International cricket council.

The reports, which appear to have originated on the site BDCricTeam, say that the Afghanistan and Pakistan teams also face the serious security threats, mainly from extreme religious political organizations.

The situation between Pakistan and India is especially complicated. The government of Pakistan must give permission to the Pakistan Cricket Board to send the country's national team to India at all. But that permission had not been issued as of Wednesday this week, meaning that whether or not Pakistan would compete at all in the 2016 T20 Cricket World Cup remained in doubt about one month ahead of the team's first scheduled match on March 16.

Pakistan's opponent in that opening match is likely to be none other than Bangladesh, who must survive the qualifying round in order to advance to the 10-team group stage, known as the Super 10.

Despite a banner year for Bangladesh cricket in 2015, especially in the One Day International format of cricket, the Tigers rank only 10th in the world in the ICC table for the shortest form of the game, the 20-overs version, with matches lasting only about three-and-a-half hours each.

That means Bangladesh opens its World T20 campaign on March 9, against the Netherlands. Also in qualifying group A will be Ireland and Oman. Bangladesh will be favored to win that group and move on to the Super 10, where the Tigers will be grouped against India, Pakistan, Australia, and New Zealand.

While Bangladesh will play their three qualifying group matches at Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium in Dharamsala, India, their Super 10 matches — assuming they advance to that round — two of their four group matches would be played at the iconic Eden Gardens Cricket Stadium in Kolkata, where the terror threats are believed to be focused.

Bangladesh Cricket T20 World Cup Eden Gardens
The iconic Eden Gardens Cricket Stadium in Kolkata, India [Photo By Chandrangshu Sengupta/Wikimedia Commons]According to reports from Bangladesh news sources, security measures will be heightened at Eden Gardens to the point where the India military is expected to surround the legendary cricket ground with tanks during games in which the Bangladesh, Pakistan, or Afghanistan teams are participating.

Afghanistan is grouped in the qualifying round with Zimbabwe, Scotland, and Hong Kong. Afghanistan will be favored to emerge from that group to take a place in the Super 10 as well, based on its Number Nine world T20 ranking. Scotland and Hong Kong rank 11th and 12th, respectively, while Zimbabwe ranks 14th.

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Assuming that both Bangladesh and Afghanistan fulfill expectations and join the Super 10 stage of the ICC T20 Cricket World Cup, the Kolkata Cricket Association has said that it will house both teams along with Pakistan in the same hotel facility, allowing for tighter security around all three squads.

Terrorism and other security fears have plagued cricket in the Indian subcontinent for at least the past seven years, since the Sri Lanka team was targeted by terrorists in Lahore, Pakistan, in 2009 — an attack covered in the following Associated Press news video.

Since that time, Pakistan has hosted only one major international cricket series, against Zimbabwe in 2015. The Pakistan team plays home matches, as well as all matches in the current, inaugural Pakistan Super League franchise T20 tournament, in the United Arab Emirates.

Bangladesh cricket has not been immune from terror fears, however. Australia refused to send its Under-19 squad to compete in the recently completed U19 World Cup hosted in Bangladesh, citing threats against Australians in the country.

[Featured Photo By Morne de Klerk / Getty Images]