Jon Coates, The Scotsman
India and Pakistan's celebrated cricketers put on a show of unity in Glasgow yesterday against the backdrop of an unprecedented terror alert that caused some of them to fear for the survival of today's historic match.
After a break of 15 months, cricket's bitterest rivalry resumes this morning at the Titwood ground on the south side of Glasgow, less than ten miles from the scene of Saturday's attempted car-bomb attack on the city's airport. Organisers have repeatedly stressed that the weather is the only threat to today's charity one-day international.
Rahul Dravid's Indians were enjoying a day off in Belfast, resting between one-day international commitments against South Africa, at the time two men wedged a jeep in the door of Glasgow Airport's arrivals hall. Shoaib Malik's Pakistan were already in the city, preparing for the match against Scotland that was abandoned due to rain.
The Indians were alarmed by what they were watching unfold on TV, but their party passed through Glasgow Airport at lunchtime yesterday with minimal fuss. Chandu Borde, India's team manager, said: "There was a little wait at the airport but no problems. Naturally, we were concerned [on Saturday] about whether this game will go ahead. So we are very happy to be here."
Organisers of the inaugural Future Friendship Cup were keen to flag up the word "friendship" as they played down fears over security at this volatile time. This match was the brainchild of the Prince of Wales, and the Asian television stations that will broadcast the game to hundreds of millions have agreed to donate profits to the British Asian Trust, a new subsidiary of the Prince's Charitable Foundation.
BAT's chairman-designate, Manoj Badale, said the new venture hoped to raise more than £2 million from today's showpiece and pointed out: 'Actually, Saturday's incident in Glasgow has only reinforced that much needs to be done where community cohesion in the UK is concerned."
India captain Dravid, who played nine matches for the Scottish Saltires in 2003 and appeared for Scotland in an unofficial match against today's opponents, was wary of getting drawn into the terror debate but agreed that the positive ramifications of going ahead with a match between historic enemies should outweigh concerns over where terrorists might strike next.
"I am a cricket player and I came here to play a cricket match," he said when prompted to spread a message of harmony across national and religious borders. "I think the fact that we are playing a cricket match this week is a message on its own. We are here to play this match for a very noble cause.
"The two teams get along well, we have a healthy respect for Pakistan and get along with them, and I think our actions speak louder than any words that I might say."
Having received no advice to the contrary from Strathclyde Police, local organisers have stressed that only a further deluge of rain could prevent Glasgow from staging the biggest cricket match to have been held in this country, and the first ODI in Glasgow. Only a few hundred of the 5,000 tickets, priced at £44, remained unsold last night, but the ground was soaked again yesterday and with a forecast for this morning of sunny spells and showers, any heavy downpours could render the outfield unplayable.
"We are just hoping that there is not enough rain over the next 12 to 14 hours to get the ground any wetter because it has rained so much over the last six weeks in Scotland," said Cricket Scotland chief executive Roddy Smith.
"For the last four or five days it has rained every day so, although we are remaining hopeful of getting play, the ground can't take a lot more rain."