Calcutta: Till late on Thursday, Pakistan’s T20 champions, the Faisalabad Wolves, were “holding on” to their Lahore-Dubai-New Delhi-Chandigarh tickets.
But the Wolves were also preparing themselves to formally hear the “very disappointing news.” That they wouldn’t be issued visas by India for the qualifiers of the Champions League T20 (CLT20).
“As we speak, there has been no communication from the Board in India, but we’ve read your report this morning and much the same has been reported by some of the TV channels...
“Mentally, the Wolves are preparing themselves for the very disappointing news... They are, however, still holding on to their tickets to India via Dubai...
“Barring the three players currently in Zimbabwe with the national team, the rest of the squad have their tickets for Saturday,” a well-placed source in the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) told The Telegraph a little after 8 pm.
Captain Misbah-ul Haq, Saeed Ajmal and quick Ehsan Adil, who made his Test debut in South Africa earlier this year, are still booked to come straight to India from Zimbabwe.
The CLT20 qualifiers are to be played in Mohali, adjoining Chandigarh, between September 17-20.
According to the well-placed source, the PCB planned to send its No.2 security manager (a retired Major) with the Wolves.
The PCB’s principal security manager, Col. (Retd) Wasim Shahid, is with the national team in Zimbabwe.
“We’re ready... It’s just that we’re waiting to hear something, one way or the other,” the well-placed source said.
One could sense a degree of exasperation.
Former Pakistan batsman Haroon Rasheed is the Wolves’ manager. He’s played against India.
Meanwhile, it’s still not official, but one learns that New Delhi’s refusal to grant visas is an “entirely political decision,” having nothing or little to do with security concerns.
“This hasn’t been the Union home ministry’s call... The home people didn’t really have misgivings... It’s the ministry of external affairs which has had the final say,” is how a top source put it.
For now, then, don’t expect cricket to help bilateral relations get back on track after a series of setbacks this year.