England’s Shoaib Bashir faces visa hurdle, set to join squad for opening test

Joining the England squad for the Test series, Shoaib Bashir encounters visa delays, but coach McCullum remains optimistic about a swift resolution.

England’s first practice session at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium on Monday encountered a setback as uncapped off-spinner Shoaib Bashir was absent due to visa issues, causing delays in his arrival from the UAE to India. Bashir, the only Test side member facing paperwork hurdles, is anticipated to join the squad soon.

Head coach Brendon McCullum reassured that Bashir’s visa issues are being addressed with the support of the BCCI and the Indian government, expressing confidence that the matter will be resolved swiftly. McCullum highlighted Bashir’s seamless integration during the Abu Dhabi camp and the team’s optimism about his participation in the opening Test on January 25.

Addressing the fitness of skipper Ben Stokes, who underwent knee surgery in November, McCullum conveyed optimism about Stokes being ready for the series opener, emphasizing his dedication and hard work. While Stokes participated in training during the Abu Dhabi camp, the expectation is that he may not undertake bowling duties in the upcoming five-match Test series.

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The coach also extended support to Harry Brook, who withdrew from the India Tests due to personal reasons, emphasizing the importance of prioritizing personal matters over cricket. McCullum left open the possibility of Brook’s return later in the tour, acknowledging the ongoing communication with the player and his family.

Reflecting on the upcoming series against India, McCullum acknowledged the challenging nature of the tour and expressed excitement about the test it poses to England’s methods and skills. The coach emphasized the need for players to be mentally present, confident, and adaptable to the nuances of the game, highlighting the straightforward yet crucial objectives of taking 20 wickets and scoring one more run than the opposition.

-IANS