Pakistan's T20 champions Faisalabad Wolves are finally set to participate in the upcoming Champions League Twenty20 (CLT20) 2013 after the Indian embassy in Pakistan granted visas to the players, ending days of uncertainty and speculation.
The participation of the Pakistani team in the upcoming cricketing extravaganza was in doubt after the Indian government denied them visas, citing safety issues.
According to ESPNcricinfo, the Pakistani team has been granted visas and the players would leave for India in two batches - those in Lahore are due to leave on Saturday, while three players in the Pakistan national team - Misbah-ul-Haq, Saeed Ajmal and Ehsan Adil - are due to fly from Zimbabwe on the completion of the current series.
CNN-IBN citing sources had earlier reported that the Faisalabad Wolves will be issued visas anytime on Friday, to pave the way for their participation in the limited overs cricket tournament. According to the news channel, the breakthrough came after the informal meeting of foreign ministers of the two neighbouring countries and hectic lobbying by BCCI. Indian High Commission in Lahore was then informed late on Thursday evening to hand over the visas on Friday.
It was earlier reported that India would not provide visas to the Pakistani team citing security issues. The decision came amid growing tension between the two countries, following repeated violation of ceasefire along the Line of Control (LOC).
"As a matter of abundance precaution and caution in terms of safety and security, the government did not give green signal for the cricket team's visit," government sources told Press Trust of India (PTI).
Faisalabad Wolves had earlier expressed hope to play in the tournament despite not getting visas to India.
"The players have been training assuming that they are going to depart as planned," Haroon Rasheed, the Faisalabad team manager, told ESPNcricinfo. "There may be some uncertainty but the players are asked to just focus on cricket and nothing else. We have completed our conditioning camp and the players have dispersed to do their packing and get ready by tonight."
The Pakistani team is scheduled to play in the qualifier round that features Sunrisers Hyderabad, Kandurata Maroons and Otago Volts. The top two performing teams will enter the main draw of the tournament.
CLT20 is a 20-over cricket tournament in the line of Indian Premier League (IPL), which will start on 17 September and conclude on 6 October. A total of 10 teams from around the world will play in the main draw.