The preparations of the Pakistan cricket team for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 in India have faced significant disruption due to a visa delay, delaying their departure for the tournament set to begin in just 10 days.
The team and officials had initially planned to depart for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last week, where they intended to hold a two-day team bonding session in Dubai before heading to India. In India, they are scheduled to play their first match against the Netherlands on October 6.
However, a delay in receiving visas for the team and officials has thrown their plans into disarray, highlighting the longstanding tensions between the two countries.
A spokesperson for the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) stated, “We had planned to spend two days in Dubai (September 25 and 26) before flying to Hyderabad (India) ahead of the team’s pre-tournament warm-up matches. However, we had to cancel the team bonding session due to a delay in receiving our visas from India.”
The current plan is for the team to depart for Hyderabad, a southern Indian city, on September 27, assuming they receive the visas on time. The spokesperson added, “We will fly to Hyderabad via Dubai in the early hours of Wednesday, but this is [again] subject to the arrival of visas.”
Cross-border tensions between India and Pakistan, both of which have been bitter rivals since gaining independence from British rule in 1947, have once again affected cricketing events. The two nations have fought three wars and maintain strict restrictions on the cross-border movement of their citizens.
Direct flights between India and Pakistan have been suspended for over four years, a result of deteriorating relations triggered by India’s revocation of the special status of Indian-occupied Kashmir.
Pakistan’s cricket team last visited India in 2016 for the T20 Cricket World Cup, while India has not sent its cricket team to Pakistan since 2006. The last bilateral series between the two teams took place in 2012.
Pakistan is scheduled to play the first of its two pre-tournament warm-up matches in Hyderabad on September 29, with the tournament itself commencing in Ahmedabad on October 5.
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