LAHORE/NEW DELHI: Pakistan’s cricket team was issued visas on Monday night, less than 48 hours before their departure for India to play in the 50-over World Cup, the International Cricket Council has announced.
Following strong protests by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), the approval from the Indian visa authorities came and the visas were issued. The Pakistan team will travel to the South Indian city of Hyderabad via Dubai on Wednesday.
PCB had sent a strongly-worded letter to the ICC over the visa delay which caused the Pakistan team to cancel plans for a pre-World Cup team bonding trip to the UAE.
“The Ministry of Home Affairs gives security clearance for issue of visas,” an Indian government spokesperson told Cricinfo. “The process is underway.” The PCB is expected to receive the passports with visas for its squad on Monday evening.
In the letter, the PCB asked the ICC what steps the global body intended to take to resolve the issue, and also asked whether, in line with the obligations of a host board, written confirmations had been provided by the BCCI - or on behalf of the Indian government - that visas will be provided to all participating nations. In July at its annual conference in Durban, the ICC had been told by the BCCI that visas for the Pakistan contingent would be facilitated in time. Whether that was put in writing could not be confirmed.
The PCB has also raised the question of whether the inability to provide visas in time for the squad to travel constitutes a breach of the hosting agreement of the World Cup.
Pakistan will now fly out to Dubai in the early hours of Wednesday (September 27), transit there, and then travel to Hyderabad on Wednesday evening. They are scheduled to play their first warm-up game on Friday, against New Zealand, in Hyderabad.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said Monday spectators will not be allowed inside the stadium and the match will “take place behind closed doors as per the advice of the local security agencies”. The match “coincides with festivals on the day and large gatherings are expected around the city,” the BCCI said in a statement, adding ticket holders will be refunded.