12-Feb-2024 • 9 hrs ago
England encountered yet more visa trouble on their tour of India after Rehan Ahmed was stopped from leaving Hirasar airport, Rajkot, because he was not in possession of the right paperwork.
Sportstar reported on Monday that Rehan had been prohibited from re-entering India after England’s mid-series break in Abu Dhabi because he only held a single-entry visa. Following a delay, local authorities were able to come to a short-term solution for the legspinner, with England optimistic the issue will be sorted fully in the next 24 hours. All travelling squad members and support staff were at the team hotel in Rajkot by Monday evening.
The issue comes weeks after Shoaib Bashir’s arrival in India was delayed by a week because of the late issuing of his visa, which resulted in him missing the first Test in Hyderabad. Bashir, who has Pakistani heritage, eventually arrived on January 28 – day four of the first Test – having initially remained in Abu Dhabi, where England had their pre-tour training camp, before returning to the UK to get his visa stamped. He went on to make his debut in the second Test at Visakhapatnam.
Like Bashir, Rehan was born in England and is of Pakistani heritage, but had no initial trouble entering the country because of a visa he had secured in October as a stand-by for England’s 50-over World Cup squad. As such, this is highly likely to have been a clerical oversight by the ECB, given that the white-ball squad had remained in India for the duration of their World Cup campaign, which ended at the group stages.
“The England team has been advised to process the visa again which will be happening in the next two days,” a BCCI official was quoted as saying in the Hindustan Times. “The player was allowed to enter the country with the rest of the team and he will be appearing in practice on Tuesday.”
Either way, it is a problem that should not have arisen given the high-profile nature of Bashir’s ordeal, and the fact England’s six-day break in the UAE between the second and third Test, which begins on Thursday, had been on the card for months.
Ollie Robinson revealed earlier on Monday that he only received his visa on the morning that England initially flew to Hyderabad from Abu Dhabi last month, having heard the previous night from team manager Wayne Bentley that a paperwork error had caused a delay. “He said, ‘your visa has been denied’ or something,” Robinson said on his podcast, Chatting Balls.
“There was an error at the ECB – I think they must have just put an initial wrong, or one letter must have been wrong. It didn’t pass. He was like, ‘you’re not coming to India – you have to stay here for another night… it could be two nights, could be three nights, don’t know how long it’s going to take.’ Luckily, I woke up in the morning to a nice message from Wayne saying ‘visa’s here’.”
Rehan has featured in both matches in the series so far, taking eight wickets at 36.37 and scoring 70 runs at 17.80, which included a cameo of 23 at No.3 in England’s failed chase of 399 in the second Test.
Rehan AhmedEnglandEngland in India
Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo