Pakistan’s cricket team has been denied visas to travel to India for the ongoing T20 World Cup for the Blind. In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Pakistan Blind Cricket Council (PBCC) said that the team could not get clearance from the Ministry of External Affairs in India.
“This unfortunate incident has left the Pakistan blind cricket team in the lurch,” the PBCC said. “It was highly likely that Pakistan and India would have locked horns in the final of ongoing World Cup and considering the current form of the Green Shirts, Pakistan had high chances to win the World Cup.”
The PBCC said “it strongly condemns this discriminating act of India as sports should be above regional politics”.
“Our counterpart in India pleaded with their government for Pakistan’s clearance but nothing was heard,” the statement said. “This discriminating act will have serious consequences on global blind cricket as we at the World Blind Cricket will take stern action against them and may not allow India to host future international events.”
“Indian team very, very disappointed they are not coming”
Mahantesh GK, the president of Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI), told ESPNcricinfo that the hosts were “very, very disappointed” about the Pakistan team not making it to the tournament. “I heard from our colleagues from Pakistan that they didn’t couldn’t get the visas; they had received this afternoon a call from the Indian High Commission saying that they wouldn’t be able to process the visas,” Mahantesh said. “It is very, very unfortunate because yesterday we had the inauguration [of the tournament]. Pakistan are one of the best teams and we were keen to play with them. The Indian team is very, very disappointed that they are not coming.”
Mahantesh said CABI had approached the concerned ministries in the Indian government – the Ministry of External Affairs, and the Ministry of Home Affairs – regarding facilitating the visas.
CABI had been optimistic about the Pakistan team travelling to India for the World Cup, Mahantesh said, because they had played it India in 2012 and 2017. “But today when I heard Pakistan team had not got the clearance, it was a bit shocking.”
CABI will release an updated tournament schedule for the touranment.
Apart from India, the remaining participating teams are Bangladesh, Australia, Sri Lanka, Nepal and South Africa. Pakistan had finished second in the previous T20 World Cup for the Blind. The current tournament is being played from December 5 to 17, in Faridabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Indore and Bengaluru, where the final will be held.
Edited PTI copy, with additional reporting by ESPNcricinfo.