Chandigarh: It was at 3.05 pm on Monday that two CLT20 officials came to manager Haroon Rasheed and said “It’s done... Enjoy your lunch!”
That was in the PCA Stadium’s Long Room in neighbouring Mohali.
Rasheed (a former Pakistan batsman, selector and manager), who’d been struggling with tandoori roti and butter chicken till then, smiled and told The Telegraph “Tension khatam hua... It’s a relief.”
The “tension” had been because of a major mess-up at all ends when the Faisalabad Wolves were issued visas by India’s High Commission in Islamabad.
Owing to an oversight, which strangely wasn’t noticed across the board, the visas were only granted for the five venues hosting the CLT20 matches, including the qualifiers.
Mohali (Punjab) was mentioned, but not Chandigarh. While Mohali is the staging venue, the teams always stay in Chandigarh, which is a Union territory.
So peculiar is the arrangement between India and Pakistan, that both don’t issue blanket visas to each other’s citizens.
Hopefully, a lesson has been learnt and it’s time New Delhi and Islamabad did away with city-specific visas for sportsmen and sportswomen, at least.
The Wolves had already checked-in at the JW Marriott on Sunday morning when the slip-up surfaced. To avoid a major problem, Rasheed and his squad were advised to spend the night at the PCA Stadium’s Club House.
As the Wolves required 21 rooms, the Punjab Ranji squad and some of the trainees at the academy were shifted to the dormitory area.
The Club House rooms, by the way, are excellent. In the past, the likes of Geoffrey Boycott have stayed there.
Boycott is fussy, to put it mildly.
Sunday wasn’t a working day for the bureaucrats in New Delhi, or else the Union home ministry would have set things right without the Wolves having to spend the night not in their hotel, but elsewhere.
Not just that, because of the complication, a practice match had to be cancelled, derailing the Wolves’ preparations.
“Yes, it has been an unusual experience... The boys trained in the morning and we’ll have nets under the floodlights too... Our first qualifying match (against the Otago Volts), after all, is tomorrow,” Rasheed pointed out.
The Wolves returned to their hotel after the evening nets, around 9.30 pm. By then, captain Misbah-ul Haq, Saeed Ajmal and Ehsan Adil had arrived from Zimbabwe.
Footnote: While the visa issue was sorted out in the afternoon, the Wolves were still waiting for their India sim cards till late in the evening.