Last-minute visa approval: Pakistan squad cleared for ODI World Cup 2023 travel to India
The ICC has confirmed that the Indian government has granted visas to the Pakistan squad set to travel for the ODI World Cup 2023, with the approval coming just under 48 hours before the team's scheduled departure to Hyderabad via Dubai.
On Monday, members of the Pakistan cricket team received Indian visas for the upcoming ODI World Cup, as confirmed by the International Cricket Council (ICC). This development occurred just hours after the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) expressed serious concerns to the ICC regarding the delay in the national team's travel to Hyderabad. The visa clearance was granted less than 48 hours before Pakistan's scheduled departure to India on September 27, with their first warm-up game against New Zealand set for September 29.
An ICC spokesperson confirmed the issuance of visas for Pakistan, but confusion persisted within the Pakistan camp regarding the visa clearance. “Visas have been issued to Pakistan,” an ICC spokesperson told PTI.
Umar Farooq, the PCB spokesperson, stated that they had not yet received a call from the Indian High Commission regarding visa clearance, and a member of their team was stationed there. “We have not got the call from Indian High Commission yet over visa clearance. Member of our team is stationed there,” PCB spokesperon Umar Farooq told PTI.
The confirmation from the ICC followed the PCB's letter to ICC CEO Geoff Allardice on Monday, highlighting the visa delay's adverse impact on the team's preparation for the 50-over World Cup. Pakistan had planned a two-day team bonding session in Dubai before their arrival in Hyderabad on September 27, which was canceled due to uncertainty surrounding Indian visas.
In their letter to Allardice, the PCB also expressed concerns about the inequitable treatment of Pakistan regarding visas for players, team officials, fans, and journalists for the World Cup in India, a matter they claim has not been adequately addressed for over three years. They emphasized that such treatment would not be acceptable.
Reiterating these concerns, Farooq stated, "There has been an extraordinary delay in getting clearance and securing Indian visas for the Pakistan team for the ICC World Cup." He emphasized that the PCB had been reminding the ICC of their obligations for three years and that the situation had only been resolved in the last two days, just before their first warm-up game scheduled for September 29.
Pakistan last visited India for the T20 World Cup in 2016 and that they only play against each other in the Asia Cup and ICC tournaments due to tense relations between the two countries.
PCB sources revealed that flight tickets for approximately 35 team members had been re-booked after the cancellation of the Dubai trip. The team's new travel plan involved departing from Lahore to Hyderabad via Dubai on the night of September 27, with their first warm-up game rapidly approaching.
“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 told PTI.
Visa applications from Pakistan require clearances from three ministries: home, external affairs, and sports.
Pakistan's next warm-up match is scheduled against Australia on October 3, and this will also take place in Hyderabad. Subsequently, the team will continue to stay in the city for their initial two ODI World Cup 2023 matches against the Netherlands and Sri Lanka on October 6 and October 10, respectively. Following these matches, they will journey to Ahmedabad for the highly anticipated showdown against the host nation, India, which is set to take place on October 14.