Kolkata: Cleared by their government after days of uncertainty over their participation, the Pakistani contingent arrived in India to take part in the World Twenty20 cricket tournament as they landed here after a long flight.
The 27-member Pakistan cricket contingent arrived in the city from Abu Dhabi, finally ending days of suspension over their participation in the mega event.
The Pakistan contingent comprising 15 players, 12 officials and support staff reached the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport at 7:55 pm amid tight security after the Pakistan government finally gave their Cricket Board the green signal to fly to India.
Hundreds of fans gathered at the airport to welcome the Pakistan team as Shahid Afridi and his players came out of the airport. The Pakistani skipper reciprocated the warm gestures, waving at the crowd before leading his teammates into two buses as they went straight to the team hotel.
It took about an hour for the Pakistan players to clear their immigration formalities before they finally came out of the airport to the loud cheers of the fans gathered there.
Some fans were also heard shouting ‘Three cheers for India’.
There were tight security arrangements for the Pakistani contingent with hundreds of security personnel from CISF and black commandos maintaining a vigil as the players landed at the airport.
The Pakistan contingent includes manager Intikhab Alam, the experienced former Test captain and a high profile security manager.
Due to the delay in their arrival, the Pakistan team has missed out on a warm-up match against Bengal which was scheduled for yesterday. They will now play a practice game against Sri Lanka here on Monday.
Their first match of the main tournament will be held at Eden Gardens on March 16 against a qualifier team, followed by the marquee clash against arch-rival India at the same venue on March 19.
They will then take on New Zealand (March 22) and Australia (March 25) in their remaining Group B matches — both in Mohali.
The Pakistan team was to fly out on Wednesday but the government put their departure on hold, citing security concerns. On Thursday, Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan ruled out sending the team until special security assurances were met from India.
The matter was solved following security assurances from the Indian government.