India captain Rohit Sharma has expressed sympathy for England’s Shoaib Bashir after visa complications delayed his arrival into the country.
Bashir, a British Muslim with Pakistani heritage, has experienced difficulty having had his application approved and was forced to fly back to London from Abu Dhabi to resolve the issue, ruling him out of Thursday’s first Test.
It is not the first time players with links to Pakistan have experienced hold-ups in India, with Lancashire’s Saqib Mahmood and Australia opener Usman Khawaja among that number. The Pakistan Cricket Board wrote to the International Cricket Council late last year due to delays over visas for their World Cup squad.
England skipper Ben Stokes said on Tuesday he was ‘devastated’ for the uncapped 20-year-old and his opposite number has also offered solidarity.
‘I feel for him honestly,’ Sharma said. ‘Unfortunately I don’t sit in the visa office to give you more details on that but hopefully he can make it quickly, enjoy our country and plays some cricket as well.
‘It’s not easy for anyone, it could be one of our guys wanting to come to England and being denied.’
Stokes, meanwhile, remained visibly disgruntled by Bashir’s treatment as he gave his pre-match press conference and revealed he initially suggested the squad should not fly to India without their team-mate.
That idea did not last long and he said there was ‘never a chance’ of boycotting the first Test.
‘When I first found the news out in Abu Dhabi, I did say we shouldn’t fly until Bash gets his visa but that was a little bit tongue in cheek,’ Stokes said.
‘I know it’s a way bigger thing, doing that. That was probably just [my] emotions around the whole thing.
‘There was never a chance that we were not going to travel around this but Bash knows he’s had our full support.
‘I’m pretty devastated that Bash has had to go through this. As a leader, as a captain, when one of your team-mates is affected by something like that you do get a bit emotional.
‘I know he’s back in London and a lot of people are jumping through hoops to try and get this through quicker. Hopefully we’re going to see him here over the weekend.’