England captain Ben Stokes hopes the visa issues that stopped teammate Shoaib Bashir from entering India for a five-Test series will be “quickly” resolved.
Britain-born Bashir, a 20-year-old of Pakistani heritage, was unable to join the rest of the squad flying to India from a training camp in Abu Dhabi ahead of the opener in Hyderabad following a delay in his visa application.
“I’m pretty devastated that Bash has had to go through this,” Stokes told reporters in Hyderabad.
“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.
“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.”
The Somerset off-spinner is back in London, but it is hoped he will be able to play in later matches in the series.
“A lot of people are jumping through hoops to try and get this through quicker,” Stokes said. “Hopefully we’re going to see him here over the weekend.”
India and neighbouring Pakistan are arch-rivals, both on and off the field.
A long-standing diplomatic stand-off between the two nuclear-armed nations has affected sporting ties, with India refusing to tour Pakistan or to play ICC events there.
India skipper Rohit Sharma said he felt for Bashir after the uncapped spinner was forced to return home.
“I feel for him honestly,” Rohit told reporters in Hyderabad on the eve of the opening match starting on Thursday.
“Unfortunately I don’t sit in the visa office to give you more details,” he added.
“But I hope he can make it here quickly and enjoy our country and play some cricket as well.”
The ECB had tried to resolve the issue with their Indian counterpart, the BCCI, but the decision appeared to be out of its hands.
There was no immediate response from India’s foreign ministry.
Other cricketers of Pakistani descent have previously had trouble in gaining entry to India, with batsman Usman Khawaja late in joining Australia’s tour of the country last year.
The Pakistan cricket team also faced a delay in obtaining visas ahead of last year’s ODI World Cup in India.
A spokeswoman for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s office said while the British government could not “speak to the process and what’s happened in this individual case” they had raised the broader issue with the Indian government.