PM steps in, Faisalabad Wolves set to get visas to play in Champions League T20

Written by PranabDhalSamanta | New Delhi | Updated: Sep 13 2013, 17:20pm hrs
Faisalabad WolvesIndia had initially refused visa to Faisalabad Wolves to participate in the Champions League Twenty20 scheduled to begin from Sept 17.
Pakistani cricket team Faisalabad Wolves, initially denied a visa to participate in the Champions League Twenty20 tournament this month, is now set to get the travel document at the personal intervention of the Prime Minister's Office, it is reliably learnt.

The decision comes weeks ahead of Manmohan Singh's meeting with Pakistan's new Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Sources close to the government told The Indian Express that the Prime Minister has overruled the Home Ministry's earlier assessment that Faisalabad Wolves faced a security risk in the country. There was apprehension that if the Wolves worked their way up in the tournament, they would be playing at different cities across India. Intelligence agencies questioned whether state governments would be able make arrangements on the go.

But the mood at the highest level of governance is not to allow anything come in the way of strong sporting ties between the two countries, it is learnt. The team is set to get their visas today.

India had refused visa to the team to participate in the tournament scheduled to begin from September 17 against the backdrop of current tensions between the two countries. The government's decision not to give visas to the Pakistani team to participate in the limited over cricket tournament came in the shadow of recent ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) creating tension between the two countries.

"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 had said.

The Faisalabad team, led by national team skipper Misbah-ul-Haq, was invited to play in the qualifying rounds of the Champions League T20 in India. The Faisalabad team's participation in the CLT20 was confirmed until the LoC issues arose.

Last year, the BCCI had invited Pakistan to send its domestic T20 champions -- Sialkot Stallions -- for the Champions League which was held in South Africa. The Sialkot Stallions, however, failed to qualify for the main round. This year Faisalabad Wolves, by virtue of emerging as the national T20 champions, had earned the honour of representing Pakistan in the Champions League.