• Friday, March 01, 2024

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Finally, England spinner Shoaib Bashir gets India visa but Stokes still not happy

It was claimed that the 20-year-old spinner’s Pakistan origin was the reason behind his visa getting delayed.

England spinner Shoaib Bashir (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

THE England cricket squad touring India for a five-Test series got a relief when its Pakistan-origin off-spinner Shoaib Bashir was granted a visa on Wednesday (24) to reach India for the tour.

Three Lions Test skipper Ben Stokes reacted to the delay of issuing Bashir, 20, a visa and said he was “devastated” and that he had even thought of not going for the tour. Bashir was left stranded in Abu Dhabi even as the rest of the visiting squad went to India and he had to fly back home to sort the issue out.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Wednesday confirmed the news of the uncapped Surrey-born bowler getting the visa in a post on X.

“Shoaib Bashir has now received his visa, and is due to travel to join up with the team in India this weekend. We’re glad the situation has now been resolved,” the ECB posted on the eve of the first Test in Hyderabad.

Read: UK PM’s office reacts as Shoaib Bashir faces visa issue for India Test tour

He will, however, miss the match and will be available for selection from the second match onwards.

The delay in granting Bashir the visa snowballed into a major controversy with a British government spokesperson demanding “fair” treatment for the youngster and Stokes hardly mincing words in expressing his outrage.

Read: Blow for India as Virat Kohli to skip first two Tests against England

Bashir, who is a shock inclusion in the squad with a mediocre 10 wickets from just six first-class games, was never in contention for a place in the squad for the opening Test.

“When I first found the news out in Abu Dhabi, I did say we shouldn’t fly until Bash gets his visa,” Stokes said in the pre-match press conference on Wednesday.

“But that was a little bit tongue in cheek. I know it’s a way bigger thing than doing that. That was probably just emotions around the whole thing. I’m pretty devastated that Bash has had to go through this,” he added.

An unnamed British government spokesperson told ESPNcricinfo that it wasn’t the first time that citizens of Pakistani heritage faced a delay in securing Indian visas.

“The specifics of this case are a matter for Shoaib Bashir and the Indian Government. But we absolutely expect India to treat British citizens fairly at all times in its visa process.

“We have previously raised the issues British citizens with Pakistani heritage experience applying for visas with the Indian High Commission in London,” he said.

India have, so far, not commented on the matter.

Stokes hoped that Bashir would be able to join the squad by the end of this week. “…hopefully, we’re going to see him back in India over the weekend. The feelings we have towards it (the visa episode) hasn’t changed. It’s obviously a frustrating situation,” Stokes said.

“As a leader, as a captain, when one of your teammates is affected by something like that, you get a bit emotional. I know he’s back in London and a lot of people are jumping through hoops to try and get this through quicker…Bash knows he’s had our full support. India captain Rohit Sharma also offered his view on the matter in his pre-match press conference here and hoped that Bashir would be seen in action soon. “I feel for him. He is coming, I think, for the first time. Unfortunately I don’t sit in visa office to make the decision. Hopefully he will make it here soon,” Sharma said.

Australia opener Usman Khawaja, who is of Pakistani origin as well, faced a similar situation when he arrived late for the Test series in India last year. Players of Pakistani heritage, who have a Pakistani visa, have to apply at the Indian high commission of their respective countries to be able to travel to India.

(With PTI inputs)

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