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ICC withdraws Pakistan umpire Dar from India South Africa series after “extremist” threat

NEW DELHI (AP)_ The International Cricket Council on Monday withdrew umpire Aleem Dar of Pakistan from the remainder of the limited-overs series between India and South Africa after a group it described as “extremist” threatened to prevent him from officiating in the last game in Mumbai.

“Under the present circumstances, it will be unreasonable to expect from Aleem that he will be able to perform his duties to the best of his abilities,” the ICC said in a statement. “As such, he has been withdrawn and his replacement will be announced in due course.”

Dar officiated in the first three games of the five one day international series which South Africa leads 2-1 and was also due to stand in the fourth game in Chennai on Thursday and in Mumbai on Sunday.

Shiv Sena, which has a strong presence in Mumbai, has in the past opposed cricketing ties with Pakistan, which is blamed by India for terrorist attacks on its soil.

It dug up the pitch at New Delhi’s Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium in 1999 ahead of a test match against Pakistan though the match eventually went ahead as scheduled.

On Monday, BCCI president Shashank Manohar and Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Shahryar Khan were to meet but dozens of Shiv Sena members barged into the premises with banners to show their displeasure.

Khan was in Mumbai to pursue India to honour a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the two boards this year to play six series from 2015-2023 with Pakistan hosting India for tests, ODIs and Twenty20s in the United Arab Emirates in December this year.

Meanwhile, ICC president and former Pakistan captain Zaheer Abbas said he hoped that bilateral ties between the two neighbouring countries will be resumed.

“Politics and cricket are two different things,” Abbas told the India Today news channel. “Pakistan is only asking for a bilateral series to be played at a neutral venue.”

Both countries have not played a test match since India beat Pakistan 1-0 at home in 2007 though Pakistan did play a one-day series in India in 2012-13.

Pakistan has hosted just one test playing country -Zimbabwe in May this year – since gunmen attacked the Sri Lanka team bus at Lahore in 2009.

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