Ben Stokes Expresses Devastation Over Shoaib Bashir’s Visa Issues Ahead of India Test Series

Ben Stokes Expresses Devastation Over Shoaib Bashir’s Visa Issues Ahead of India Test Series

Hyderabad (India) (AFP) – England captain Ben Stokes has expressed his devastation over visa issues that prevented teammate Shoaib Bashir from joining the squad for the upcoming five-Test series in India. Stokes hopes for a quick resolution to the matter, as the British-born Bashir, with Pakistani heritage, was unable to obtain his visa in time to travel with the team.

Stokes addressed the situation during a press conference in Hyderabad, stating, “I’m pretty devastated that Bash has had to go through this.” He initially made a tongue-in-cheek comment suggesting that the team should not travel until Bashir’s visa was granted, highlighting his emotional response to the situation. However, Stokes acknowledged the complexity of the issue and emphasized the team’s full support for Bashir.

Bashir, an off-spinner from Somerset, had to return to London. Efforts are underway to expedite his visa process, with hopes that he will be able to join the team later in the series.

The strained diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan, longstanding rivals both on and off the field, have impacted sporting ties between the two nations. India has refused to tour Pakistan or participate in International Cricket Council (ICC) events held there.

Indian captain Rohit Sharma empathized with Bashir’s situation and expressed his hope for a quick resolution, saying, “I feel for him honestly.” He added that he did not have detailed information about the visa process but wished for Bashir to arrive soon and enjoy playing cricket in India.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had attempted to address the matter with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), but the outcome appeared to be beyond their control. There has been no immediate response from India’s foreign ministry regarding the issue.

Visa difficulties for cricketers of Pakistani descent have been encountered previously, with batsman Usman Khawaja experiencing delays in joining Australia’s tour of India last year. The Pakistan cricket team also faced visa delays prior to the ODI World Cup held in India in 2020.

England has selected four spinners, including debutant Tom Hartley and batsman Joe Root, for the opening Test match. Spin is expected to play a significant role on Indian pitches, and Stokes expressed the team’s readiness to adapt to any conditions they encounter.

India will be without star batsman Virat Kohli for the first two Tests due to personal reasons. They have been undefeated on home soil in Test series since 2012 when England emerged victorious with a 2-1 win.

Stokes acknowledged the challenge of playing against India in their home conditions, stating, “India is an absolute beast in their home conditions.” He recognized the necessity for the England team to step up and perform well to avoid finding themselves in trouble.

The opening match of the series is set to begin on Thursday, with both teams eager to make their mark in what promises to be a highly competitive contest.

England XI: Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes (capt), Ben Foakes, Rehan Ahmed, Tom Hartley, Mark Wood, Jack Leach