Pakistan cricket team in action during Asia Cup 2023© AFP
The Pakistan Cricket Board on Monday raised serious concerns with the ICC over the delay in national team’s travel to India for the Cricket World Cup due to visa issues and claimed the anxious wait has already impacted its preparation for the 50-over showpiece. The PCB wrote to the ICC as it continues to wait for visa clearance from the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. Pakistan were supposed to have a two-day team bonding session in Dubai before their scheduled arrival in Hyderabad on September 27 but it has been cancelled with uncertainty over Indian visa. The Babar Azam-led side plays two warm-up games and as many World Cup matches in Hyderabad starting with the practice fixture against New Zealand on September 29.
In the letter addressed to ICC CEO Geoff Allardice, the PCB also claimed that its concerns over visa being granted to players, team officials, fans and journalists for the World Cup in India have not been addressed for more than three years. It also added that such inequitable treatment to Pakistan will not be acceptable.
“Since the last week PCB is being informed that the visas will be received within 24 hours; but still awaiting and it has been indicated that the Indian Home Ministry has not granted NOC,” a PCB spokesperson told PTI on Monday. Pakistan last visited India for the T20 World Cup in 2016. The arch-rivals only play each other in the Asia Cup and ICC tournaments due to the tense relations between the two countries.
PCB sources informed that flight tickets of around 35-member Pakistan contingent have been re-booked now that the Dubai trip is off. Subject to visa, the team will now leave for Hyderabad from Lahore in the wee hours of September 27 and reach Hyderabad via Dubai in the night.
“Visa delay has resulted in a setback as far as team’s preparation for the World Cup is concerned. The warm-up game is less than four days away and players are in a state of uncertainty. If the players are having to experience delays, one can only wonder what will happen to visa applications of fans and journalists,” a source said.
Visa applications from Pakistan require clearances from three ministries — home, external affairs and sports.
Pakistan’s second warm-up game will be against Australia on October 3, also in Hyderabad.
They will remain in the city for their opening two World Cup games against Netherlands and Sri Lanka on October 6 and 10 respectively before flying to Ahmedabad for the big game against hosts India on October 14.
Only two members from the current Pakistan squad have toured India for cricket – Mohammad Nawaz and Salman Agha.
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