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England wait on Rehan Ahmed availability for third Test after visa issues resurface

Rehan Ahmed has been added to the England squad as cover PA Images via Getty Images

England are awaiting confirmation that Rehan Ahmed will be available to play in the third Test of their series in India this week, after the ECB conceded that a "paperwork discrepancy" prompted a hold-up at Hirasar Airport in Rajkot that was only resolved by the issuance of a temporary visa.

Rehan was initially prohibited from re-entering India on Monday evening after England's mid-series break in Abu Dhabi because he only held a single-entry visa. After a delay, local authorities arrived at a short-term solution which allowed him to travel to the team's hotel with the rest of the touring party.

"We were advised, on returning to India, that there was paperwork discrepancy with Rehan Ahmed's visa," an ECB spokesperson said on Tuesday. "The local authorities at Rajkot Airport were supportive, enabling Rehan entry on a temporary visa. The correct visa should be processed and issued in the coming days."

Rehan, the legspinning allrounder, trained with his team-mates at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium on Tuesday and is expected to receive clearance to remain in India shortly. He appears set to retain his place in England's team for the third Test, which starts on Thursday, after taking six wickets in the second.

The issue comes weeks after Shoaib Bashir's arrival in India was delayed by a week because of the late issuing of his visa, which resulted in him missing the first Test in Hyderabad.

Bashir, who has Pakistani heritage, eventually arrived on January 28 - the fourth day of the first Test - having initially remained in Abu Dhabi, where England had their pre-tour training camp, before returning to the UK to get his visa stamped. He went on to make his debut in the second Test at Visakhapatnam.

Like Bashir, Rehan was born in England and has Pakistani heritage, but he had no initial trouble entering the country because of a visa he had secured in October as a standby player for England's World Cup squad. His delay, seemingly the result of a clerical oversight by the ECB, is a problem that should not have arisen.

Ollie Robinson, who is yet to feature in the series, revealed earlier on Monday that he only received his visa on the morning that England initially flew to Hyderabad from Abu Dhabi last month, having heard the previous night from team manager Wayne Bentley that another paperwork error had caused a delay.

"He [Bentley] said, 'your visa has been denied' or something," Robinson said on his podcast, Chatting Balls. "There was an error at the ECB - I think they must have just put an initial wrong, or one letter must have been wrong. It didn't pass. He was like, 'you're not coming to India - you have to stay here for another night… it could be two nights, could be three nights, don't know how long it's going to take.' Luckily, I woke up in the morning to a nice message from Wayne saying 'visa's here'."

Ollie Pope, England's vice-captain, described Rehan's situation as "very frustrating" on Tuesday. "I'm not sure whose mistake it was. I don't want to name any names," Pope said. "It's very frustrating, but hopefully [it] will all be sorted by the end of the day, he's cleared for the next game and the rest of the trip. It's a bit of bad luck, but hopefully all sorted.

"It sounds pretty positive. I think we're getting around Rehan. He's in good spirits. He was training today. I think it was sorted fairly quickly yesterday, but obviously it's all going on behind the scenes and hopefully it'll all be sorted within the next day or so. He's in good spirits, the boys are getting around him and he's just happy to be out here training."

1230 GMT, Tuesday - This story was updated to include the ECB's statement and Pope's comments.