Pakistani players get Indian visas for World Cup four days before first warm-up game
INDORE: Members of the Pakistan cricket team were on Monday issued Indian visas for the ODI World Cup, the International Cricket Council (ICC) confirmed, hours after the PCB raised serious concerns with the global body over the delay in the national team's travel to Hyderabad.
The visa clearance came less than 48 hours before Pakistan's scheduled travel to India in the wee hours of September 27.
They play their first warm-up game against New Zealand in Hyderabad on September 29.
"Visas have been issued to Pakistan," an ICC spokesperson told PTI.
The confirmation from the ICC came after the PCB wrote to ICC CEO Geoff Allardice on Monday over the visa delay besides claiming the anxious wait has adversely impacted the team's preparation for the 50-over showpiece.
Pakistan were supposed to have a two-day team bonding session in Dubai before their scheduled arrival in Hyderabad on September 27 but was cancelled due to the 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.
In the letter addressed to 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.
Reiterating those concerns, Farooq added: "There has been an extraordinary delay in getting clearance and securing Indian visas for the Pakistan team for ICC World Cup. We have written to ICC raising our concerns about inequitable treatment towards Pakistan and reminding them of these obligations towards the World Cup. 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 about their obligations from last three years and it has all come down to 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 exercise 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," he said.
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 members have been re-booked now that the Dubai trip is off.
The team will now leave for Hyderabad from Lahore in the wee hours of September 27 and reach Hyderabad via Dubai in the night.
"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.