Pakistan-born Aussie batter Usman Khawaja’s India visa belatedly issued ahead of Test tour

Published February 1, 2023
In this Nov. 25, 2016 file photo, Australia’s Usman Khawaja celebrates making 100 runs against South Africa during their cricket Test match in Adelaide, Australia. — AP/File
In this Nov. 25, 2016 file photo, Australia’s Usman Khawaja celebrates making 100 runs against South Africa during their cricket Test match in Adelaide, Australia. — AP/File

Pakistan-born Australian batter Usman Khawaja was on Wednesday belatedly issued his Indian visa and will join his teammates who are already departing for next week’s four-Test tour, an Indian diplomat said.

Khawaja — who moved to Australia aged four — has toured India before, but also faced delays on that occasion with his visa taking longer than Australia-born teammates.

“Waiting for my Indian Visa,” Khawaja said on Instagram, above an image from Netflix series “Narcos” where forlorn Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar — played by actor Wagner Moura — sits alone on a swinging seat.

India’s high commissioner to Australia tweeted in response later that Khawaja’s visa had been “issued and collected from our Consulate General in Melbourne”.

“Let’s have a great #BorderGavaskarTrophy series!” Manpreet Vohra tweeted. He did not elaborate on the reasons for the visa delay.

Australian media reported that touring players and support staff began receiving visas in early January, and some have already begun arriving in Bengaluru, where the team will set up pre-match camp.

Pakistan and India have had fraught relations since partition in 1947 and those tensions have routinely seeped into sports.

The two countries last played a bilateral series a decade ago and Pakistani players have been barred from the prestigious T20 Indian Premier League.

Australia is trying to win its first Test series in India in almost a decade. Tests will be played in Nagpur, Delhi, Dharamsala and then in the world’s largest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad.

After being left out of the Test side for about two years, Khawaja made a stunning return against England in the 2021-2022 Ashes.

He notched his 4,000th Test run in a recent match against South Africa in Sydney, where he was 195 not out.

Khawaja was awarded the inaugural Shane Warne Men’s Test Player of the Year award for his 1,020 runs at an average of 78.46.

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