The long-standing uncertainty surrounding Pakistan’s participation in the highly anticipated ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 has come to an end. India has finally issued visas to the Pakistan cricket team, according to an announcement by the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Monday.
The confirmation from the ICC followed complaints of a delay in the visa issuance process, which had caused anxiety within the cricketing community. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had expressed its concerns to the ICC, citing the visa delay as a disruption to the team’s preparation for the prestigious event to be held across the border.
An ICC spokesperson confirmed to Reuters, “Visas have been issued to the Pakistan team,” while not providing further details. PCB spokesperson Umar Farooq also affirmed that they had been instructed to collect their passports from the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.
India and Pakistan have previously suspended bilateral cricket matches due to strained political relations. They only face each other in multi-team events such as the World Cup and Asia Cup.
In a strongly worded statement, Farooq decried the “inequitable treatment” that the Pakistan team had faced, especially considering their impending arrival in India on Wednesday. He remarked, “There has been an extraordinary delay in getting clearance and securing Indian visas for the Pakistan team for the ICC World Cup.” Farooq emphasized that they had conveyed their concerns to the ICC about the perceived bias against Pakistan, reminding them of their responsibilities concerning the World Cup. He expressed disappointment that the Pakistan team had to grapple with uncertainty ahead of such a major tournament.
Pakistan’s World Cup journey will commence with two warm-up matches before their first official game against the Netherlands on October 6. Cricket enthusiasts around the world are particularly eager for the October 14 showdown between arch-rivals India and Pakistan in Ahmedabad.
Earlier, India had declined to tour Pakistan for the Asia Cup, choosing to play their matches in Sri Lanka instead. The Asia Cup took place between August 30 and September 17.
Pakistan Squad for ICC World Cup 2023:
- Captain: Babar Azam
- Squad Members: Abdullah Shafique, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Usama Mir, Haris Rauf, M Wasim Jnr, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Saud Shakeel, Salman Ali Agha.
- Travelling Reserves: Mohammad Haris, Abrar Ahmed, Zaman Khan.
Schedule of Pakistan’s Warm-Up Matches:
- September 29 — vs New Zealand in Hyderabad
- October 3 — vs Australia in Hyderabad
Pakistan’s Schedule for the ICC World Cup 2023:
- October 6 — vs Netherlands in Hyderabad
- October 10 — vs Sri Lanka in Hyderabad
- October 14 — vs India in Ahmedabad
- October 20 — vs Australia in Bengaluru
- October 23 — vs Afghanistan in Chennai
- October 27 — vs South Africa in Chennai
- October 31 — vs Bangladesh in Kolkata
- November 4 — vs New Zealand in Bengaluru (Day match)
- November 11 — vs England in Kolkata
Day matches will begin at 10:00 am Pakistan Standard Time (PST), while all other matches will be day-night fixtures starting at 01:30 pm (PST).
In the event that Pakistan qualifies for the semi-finals, those matches will be held in Kolkata. However, if India advances to the semi-finals and faces Pakistan, that match will be played in Kolkata as well, ensuring a high-stakes encounter for fans.
Cricket enthusiasts from both nations can now breathe a sigh of relief as the Pakistan cricket team prepares to embark on its journey to the World Cup, renewing the excitement and anticipation for this prestigious event.