ICC World T20: Pakistani origin cricketers of Oman team face visa hurdles in India
Timely intervention from officials at the Punjab Cricket Association helps defuse a potential crisis
Oman’s arrival at the international cricket scene was quite rapid and sensational. However, their visit to India has been marred by visa issues to several of their players. Hindustan Times reported that nine of their squad members are of Pakistani origin and they were caught in a mix-up with the immigration officials in the country.
As a result, they were briefly not allowed to stay with the rest of their teammates in the city of Chandigarh. Oman crashed out of the Asia Cup Qualifiers in Bangladesh and wanted to make amends in the qualifying event for the World T20. Hence, the team arrived in India ahead of the official date which led to the confusion.
Oman were slotted into a hotel in Chandigarh which is the capital of both Haryana and Punjab. But, the contingent’s visa was authorized for Mohali. Since Chandigarh is a Union Territory while Mohali is exclusively in Punjab, the Pakistani-origin members were not allowed to stay in the federal area.
Despite being neighboring cities, there are different rules for both states as they come under separate jurisdictions. Fortunately, administrators at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) intervened and ensured that the Oman team was given accommodation in the club house inside the stadium.
GS Walia, PCA Secretary informed, “The issue cropped up as these players had visa only for Mohali. Although the cities are adjoining, technically the players could not have stayed in Chandigarh. As it was already evening on February 23 when they arrived, we brought them to the PCA stadium.”
He went on to assure that the Oman players were provided the best arrangements. Walia confirmed, “But the issue was resolved the next day (Feb 24) and by evening the correct papers came. Thereafter, the entire team was shifted back to the hotel in Chandigarh.”
Previously, Faisalabad Wolves who arrived from Pakistan for the now defunct Champions League T20 also faced similar problems. Former Pakistan all-rounder Azhar Mahmood who has a British passport had to endure visa issues as well. However, concerned officials immediately rushed in to save the day.
Oman will hope to put the quagmire behind them and concentrate on their campaign in the ICC World T20 Qualifiers which begins from March 8. They are grouped alongside Bangladesh, Ireland and Netherlands.