PCB officials troubled by visa problems

October 7th, 2008 - 3:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Karachi, Oct 7 (IANS) Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials were Tuesday making frantic efforts to get a Canadian visa for the country’s premier batsman Mohammad Yousuf in a bid to include him in a 15-man squad for a four-nation Twenty20 tournament in Toronto later this week.Yousuf was initially not picked in the preliminary squad for the Oct 10-13 quadrangular but was later included in the probables’ list after the Lahore-batsman accused the national selectors of being biased.

But his passport was sent to the Canadian Embassy in Islamabad a bit late and, according to the sources, the Canadian authorities are unwilling to issue Yousuf a visa at short notice.

A few other players including young Karachi all-rounder Fawad Alam and pace sensation Anwar Ali are also facing similar problems. The duo were travelling with the Pakistan Academy team in Kenya when the first batch of the players’ passports was sent to the Canadian Embassy last month.

Action-starved Pakistan is to feature in the Toronto quadrangular alongside Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and hosts Canada at the Maple Leaf ground in King City.

A top PCB official said the Canadians have made it clear that they will only issue visas to the final 15-man squad that will represent Pakistan in the Toronto quadrangular.

“We have delayed the team announcement till the time the visa issue is resolved,” said Shafqat Naghmi.

“Hopefully we will receive the passports Tuesday and then the team will be announced in the evening,” he added.

Pakistan is scheduled to leave for Toronto Wednesday night and will arrive there less than 24 hours before the opening match.

The visa issue is not the only problem haunting Pakistan’s Twenty20 selection.

According to a report in “The News” Tuesday, the national selection committee is under pressure from various quarters, who want their players to be named in the team. According to the report, the PCB is also advising the selectors to tackle the issue diplomatically as unlike in the past when the Board chairman used to approve the squad, it’s the Sports Ministry that has to give its nod before the team is made public.

However, chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed rejected the impression that the selectors were under any pressure.

“We will be deciding the squad on merit,” he told The News.

There were also strong rumours about the axing of senior all-rounder Shahid Afridi, as Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik and coach Geoff Lawson are against his inclusion in the Toronto-bound squad.

The big-hitting Afridi has flopped with the bat in international games in recent months but his form has been good in the ongoing National Twenty20 Cup in Lahore.

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