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Security concerns

AUSTRALIA'S women's World Cup campaign will be affected by concerns of political protests in India, where matches involving Pakistan are expected to be moved out of Mumbai for security reasons.

Australia's opening group B game is scheduled to be played against Pakistan in Mumbai on Thursday, but the fixture is likely to be moved to Cuttack, in the eastern state of Orissa, to provide better protection to the Pakistan team.

Shiv Sena, a right-wing activist group, objects to the presence of Pakistan sporting teams in Mumbai and recently disrupted a domestic hockey league because four Pakistani players were members of the Mumbai Magicians squad.

The Southern Stars will be accompanied by a security expert for the entire tournament, although there is no suggestion of a threat to the Australian team.

''It's certainly a high priority,'' said Australian Cricketers' Association boss Paul Marsh. ''The teams know they are taking a conservative risk assessment approach.''

Cricket Australia is awaiting further information from the Indian board and the International Cricket Council about the change of venue.

Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated this month when India alleged Pakistani troops crossed the border and killed two soldiers in the disputed region of Kashmir. The allegation was denied by Pakistan, which accused Indian troops of killing a Pakistani soldier.

The Australian World Cup squad, led by Jodie Fields, leaves for India on Friday.

While defending champion England, host nation India, West Indies and Sri Lanka will be based in Mumbai for all their group games, group B comprises Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa. The series will culminate on February 17.