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Dec 9, 2008

England arrive in India to resume tour

CHENNAI, India (Reuters) - England were escorted to their hotel by around 50 armed commandos after returning to India on Monday for their two-test tour.

The England team, who decided on Sunday to resume the tour aftger curtailing a one-day series following last month's militant attacks in Mumbai, arrived in two batches from Abu Dhabi.

All-rounder Andrew Flintoff said it was tough for players to dismiss security concerns but added they had been united when they finally voted to go ahead with the tour.

"Everyone has decided to go, we have decided to go as a team," Flintoff was quoted as saying on the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) website ( on Monday.

City police and commandos cordoned off the Chidambaram stadium by the Bay of Bengal with heavily-armed guards lining the boundary line as some of the Indian team practised on Monday.

"The police have taken over the gates," a regional cricket board spokesman said. "Usually the security hired by the state association man the spectator entry points. This time it is a complete police show."

The one-day series between the two teams was cut short following the attacks that killed at least 171 people in India's financial capital. England returned home after the last two games were called off with the hosts leading 5-0.

International Cricket Council chiefs spoke to officials from both countries to push for a resumption of the tour, while the Board of Control for Cricket in India promised stringent security measures and moved the venues for the tests.

The first test, starting on Thursday, was switched to Chennai from Ahmedabad and the second to Mohali (Dec. 19-23) from Mumbai.

The Chennai city police commissioner told a news conference on Monday that a 3,000-strong force drawn from police and commando units had been assigned for player security.

ECB managing director Hugh Morris, security advisor Reg Dickason and Professional Cricketers' Association head Sean Morris travelled to Chennai last week to check security measures.

Among those killed in the Mumbai attacks were 22 foreigners and the teams would have stayed in one of the two hotels that were raided by the militants.

Indian board officials have secured most of the rooms in the heavily guarded team hotel in Chennai.

The high security measures, however, have not deterred fans in the cricket-crazy city, who are eagerly awaiting the match.

"Hat's off to England's show of goodwill," engineering student Vijay Guruswamy told Reuters outside a ticket counter.

"Whatever has happened has happened but life must go on, cricket must go on."

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