Visa delays force Pakistan to cancel pre-World Cup camp

Pakistan's plans for a pre-World Cup team bonding camp to Dubai have been cancelled due to the team still awaiting visas to travel to India for the tournament.

The original itinerary had the Pakistan squad set to depart for the UAE early next week, where they would spend a couple of days before heading to Hyderabad for their first warm-up match against New Zealand on September 29.

However, they have now adjusted their plans, opting to fly from Lahore to Dubai early next Wednesday and proceed to Hyderabad from there. While the situation has raised some concerns, especially regarding fatigue heading into a global event, there remains confidence that the documents will arrive in time for the team's travel, especially since the visa application was submitted over a week ago.

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Notably, among the nine teams travelling to India for the World Cup, they are the only one still awaiting their visas.

This delay highlights the tense political relations between the two countries over the last decade. Travel between the two nations for their citizens is severely restricted, and obtaining visas is a challenging and often unrewarding process.

Cricket encounters between the two countries have also become increasingly rare. Since the visit to India for a white-ball series in 2012-13, neither side has played a cricket series in the other's homeland.

Since the Mumbai attacks in November 2008, Pakistan have only toured India for the T20 World Cup in March 2016, where they played in only two venues, Kolkata and Mohali. The 2023 World Cup will be their second visit to the country in 15 years. India, on the other hand, last visited Pakistan in 2005.

Growing tensions between India and Pakistan

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The participation in this ODI World Cup has already been the subject of much drama, as seen during the recent Asia Cup.

Pakistan was the official host of the event, but due to security concerns, only four matches were held in Pakistan, with India's team not granted clearance to travel. Consequently, the majority of the tournament took place in Sri Lanka, following a hybrid model proposed by the then PCB chief, Najam Sethi.

During earlier negotiations this year, the PCB floated the idea of a similar hybrid model for the World Cup, where Pakistan would play their matches outside of India, potentially in Bangladesh. However, this proposal was never seriously considered. In August, the Pakistan government gave clearance for the team to travel to India.

The recent developments also raise question marks over India's participation in the Champions Trophy in Pakistan in February 2025.

Furthermore, the World Cup schedule had to be adjusted at the request of police forces in Ahmedabad and Kolkata, as match dates clashed with significant religious festivals. Consequently, a total of nine matches were rescheduled.

Pakistan's first warm-up match against New Zealand, scheduled for September 29, will take place behind closed doors in Hyderabad due to a lack of assurances from the police regarding security. This decision was taken due to the presence of two major religious festivals around the same date in the city.

It's worth noting that only two players from Pakistan's current squad have previously travelled to India for cricket events – Mohammad Nawaz, who played in the 2016 T20 World Cup squad, and Agha Salman, a member of the Lahore Lions' squad for the Champions League T20.