Skipper Ben Stokes is “devastated” that visa complications will prevent Shoaib Bashir from making his England debut this week.
Bashir, a 20-year-old British-Pakistani player, was unable to join the rest of the team as they flew to India from a training camp in Abu Dhabi before the first game in Hyderabad because his visa application was delayed.
“I’m pretty devastated that Bash has had to go through this,” Stokes told reporters in Hyderabad.
“When I first found the news out in Abu Dhabi, I did say we shouldn’t fly until Bash gets his visa, but that was a little bit tongue in cheek,” the England captain said.
“I know it’s a way bigger thing, doing that. That was probably just (my) emotions around the whole thing.
“There was never a chance that we were not going to travel around this, but Bash knows he’s had our full support.”
The off-spinner from Somerset is back in London, but it is hoped that he will be able to play in later games in the series.
“A lot of people are jumping through hoops to try and get this through quicker,” Stokes said.
“Hopefully we’re going to see him here over the weekend.”
India and Pakistan, which is close by, are fierce enemies both on and off the pitch.
The two nuclear-armed countries have been in a diplomatic standoff for a long time, which has hurt their sports ties. India won’t tour Pakistan or play in ICC events there because of the standoff.
Indian captain Rohit Sharma said he felt bad for Bashir when the young spinner had to go home because he didn’t have any caps.
“I feel for him honestly,” Rohit told reporters in Hyderabad on the eve of the opening match starting Thursday.
“Unfortunately I don’t sit in the visa office to give you more details,” he added.
“But I hope he can make it here quickly and enjoy our country and play some cricket as well.”
The England and Wales Cricket Board tried to work out a solution with the BCCI, their Indian counterpart, but it looked like they couldn’t.
The foreign ministry of India did not respond right away.
Other Pakistani cricketers have had trouble getting into India in the past. For example, batsman Usman Khawaja was late to join Australia’s tour of the country last year.
The UK government could not “speak to the process and what’s happened in this individual case,” according to a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s office. However, the British government had brought up the bigger issue with the Indian government.
The Pakistan cricket team also had trouble getting visas in time for the ODI World Cup in India last year.
Photo by EPA/DAN HIMBRECHTS