With less than 48 hours remaining until their departure for Hyderabad to participate in the World Cup, the Pakistan cricket team finally received their Indian visas late on Monday evening. This development occurred shortly after the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) penned a strongly-worded letter to the International Cricket Council (ICC) regarding the delay in securing Indian visas for the upcoming World Cup, set to kick off on October 5 in Ahmedabad.
The Pakistan squad, captained by Babar Azam, will now embark on their journey from Lahore to Dubai early on Wednesday morning before catching an afternoon flight to Hyderabad, where their first of two practice matches against New Zealand is scheduled for Friday. According to their original schedule, Pakistan had planned a two-day training camp in Dubai on Monday and Tuesday prior to their flight to Hyderabad. However, the PCB was compelled to cancel the camp and reschedule their flights for Wednesday due to the delayed issuance of Indian visas. After waiting until Monday evening, the PCB reached out to the ICC regarding the visa delay. Subsequently, it was reported that the Indian High Commission granted visas to the Pakistan team around 8 PM IST on Monday.
In their communication with the ICC, the PCB emphasized the extraordinary delay in obtaining clearance and securing Indian visas for the Pakistan team’s participation in the ICC World Cup. They expressed their concerns about what they perceived as inequitable treatment towards Pakistan and reminded the ICC of its obligations with respect to the World Cup. As a consequence of this visa delay, the Pakistan cricket team had to hastily adjust their travel plans and preparations for the upcoming tournament.
The statement expressed disappointment, stating, “We are disheartened by the fact that the Pakistan team has had to face this uncertainty so close to a major tournament. We have consistently reminded the relevant authorities of their responsibilities over the past three years, yet it all came down to the last two days, just before our first warm-up game scheduled for September 29. This situation forced us to cancel our initial plans for team-building exercises in Dubai on our way to India. We had to quickly revise our plans and make new flight arrangements, contingent upon the timely issuance of visas.” PCB spokesperson Umar Farooq shared insights into the visa application process they followed, explaining, “We submitted the passport details for the first batch of visa applications to the ICC on August 18. The ICC subsequently issued the visa invitation letter on August 28. Upon the team’s return from the Asia Cup on September 15, we submitted the visa applications, along with the passports, to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad on September 19.”
This recent development introduces a fresh twist to Pakistan’s preparations for the World Cup. Earlier, there was a contentious situation when the PCB considered the possibility of not participating in cricket’s major event in India. This decision came about due to the BCCI’s refusal to visit Pakistan for the Asia Cup. Eventually, it was only after securing approval from their Foreign Ministry that the Pakistan team proceeded to board the flight to Sri Lanka, where India conducted their Asia Cup matches.