England sweat on availability of Rehan Ahmed for third Test against India after visa error

Rehan Ahmed’s availability for the third Test in Rajkot is not yet guaranteed following the latest visa problem to beset England’s tour of India.

Ahmed was held up at immigration when England returned from their mid-series break in Abu Dhabi on Monday evening, with the 19-year-old leg-spinner found to be in possession of a single-entry visa that had expired after leaving the country.

Though resolved in the short-term – Ahmed was eventually allowed to travel with his teammates to their hotel after officials at Rajkot’s Hirasar Airport issued a temporary document – England are now having to go through yet another visa application for one of their players.

It comes just a fortnight after Shoaib Bashir missed the first Test in Hyderabad due to a visa hold-up complicated by his Pakistani heritage. The off-spinner, 20, was forced to return to home after the pre-series camp in Abu Dhabi to have his visa stamped in London, eventually arriving in India on the fourth day of the series opener.

While Ahmed is also of Pakistani heritage, this latest issue appears to be a case of incompetence by the England and Wales Cricket Board. Ahmed’s single-entry visa was issued late last year when on standby for the World Cup and, given Bashir’s hold-up, it beggars belief that all visas were not double-checked before the squad left India mid-tour.

“We were advised, on returning to India, that there was a paperwork discrepancy with Rehan Ahmed’s visa. The local authorities at Rajkot Airport were supportive, enabling Rehan entry on a temporary visa,” an England spokesperson said.

“The correct visa should be processed and issued in the coming days. He will continue to prepare with the rest of the squad ahead of the third Test.”

While both boards appear confident that Ahmed’s situation will be resolved before the start of the third Test on Thursday – the series is currently locked at 1-1 with three matches to play – similar noises preceded Bashir’s issue at the beginning of the tour.

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England are currently down to three frontline spinners – Bashir, Ahmed and Tom Hartley – after opting against calling up a replacement once Jack Leach’s tour was confirmed to have been ended by a knee injury.


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