England will play a five-match Test series in India. There is a lot of excitement about the Indian philosophy of baseball cricket. The plan is to field three spinners in the first Test of the series starting tomorrow. But Indian visa policy has become a hindrance in their battle plan.
Shoaib Bashir was supposed to go on tour with the national team for the first time. But the Pakistani origin off-spinner’s visa was not received on time. So the 20-year-old spinner returned to England after waiting in the United Arab Emirates.
Surrey-born Bashir is not the first cricketer to be stymied by India’s visa policy. Earlier, Usman Khaja also faced such problems because he was of Pakistani origin. England’s Moeen Ali and Shakib Mahmud also had such an experience.
England thought the problem would be resolved by Tuesday. But he has to return home instead. English captain Ben Stokes expressed his displeasure in this regard, ‘I am very upset for him. As the captain, I am very upset that we have included a player but he is not with us because of visa.’
Stokes is at a loss as to why there was a problem with getting Bashir’s visa, saying, ‘We announced the squad in mid-December, and now Bashir knows he doesn’t have a visa. I didn’t want that to happen on my first tour for England. I understand his pain. But he is not the first cricketer to go through this. I have played with many cricketers who have this problem.
The British government is not willing to comment on this. But a Downing Street spokesperson said, ‘We hope India will be transparent in the visa process for all British nationals. And we have taken up the issue of British citizens of Pakistani origin before… talking about their visa application experience at the embassy in London.’