With less than 48 hours to go for their departure to Hyderabad for the World Cup, the Pakistan cricket team got their Indian visas late on Monday evening. The development comes hours after the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) wrote a strongly-worded letter to the International Cricket Council (ICC) about the delay in getting Indian visas for the World Cup, set to begin on October 5 in Ahmedabad.
The Babar Azam-led Pakistan team will now depart from Lahore to Dubai on early morning Wednesday before taking a flight to Hyderabad in the afternoon, where they are scheduled to play the first of their two practice matches on Friday against New Zealand.
As per their original schedule, Pakistan were to have a two-day camp in Dubai on Monday and Tuesday before flying to Hyderabad. However, the delay in procuring Indian visas forced the PCB to cancel their boot camp and reschedule their flights to Wednesday. And having waited till Monday evening, the PCB wrote to the ICC about the delay. And it is understood that around 8PM IST, the Indian High Commission granted the visas for the Pakistan team.
Pointing out to the delay in getting visas, the PCB said: “There has been an extraordinary delay in getting clearance and securing Indian visas for the Pakistan team for the ICC World Cup. We have written to the ICC raising our concerns about inequitable treatment towards Pakistan and reminding them of their obligations towards the World Cup.”
It further stated: “It’s a matter of disappointment that the Pakistan team has to go through the uncertainty ahead of the major tournament. We have been reminding them about their obligations for the last three years and it has all come down to the last two days with our first warm-up game scheduled on September 29. We were forced to cancel our original plan to organise team-building exercises in Dubai on the way to India. We have had to rework our plan and book new flights, but these plans are subject to issuance of visas.”
PCB spokesperson Umar Farooq also shared the details of the process they followed to avail the visas. “We have sent the 1st batch passport details for the Indian visa application on 18th August to ICC. The ICC sent the visa invitation letter on 28th August. After the return of the team from the Asia Cup on September 15, we submitted the visa applications, along with passports, at Indian High Commission, Islamabad on September 19”.
This is the latest twist in Pakistan’s trip for the World Cup. Earlier, the PCB had threatened to pull out of cricket’s mega event in India after the BCCI refused to travel to Pakistan for the Asia Cup. It was only after their Foreign Ministry gave the go-ahead that the Pakistan team boarded the flight to Sri Lanka where India played their Asia Cup games.