Absence of Pakistani cricketers’ from the second season of the Indian Premier League has left the affected franchises disappointed with their top officials saying that the Twenty20 event would be poorer without them.
On Monday, Pakistan barred its players from travelling to India for IPL because of “security concerns”.
The BCCI and IPL officials, Niranjan Shah and Lalit Modi said the absence of Pakistani players would not make a difference to the league’s following. But the franchises felt otherwise.
Joy Bhatacharya, the team leader of the Kolkata Knight Riders team for whom Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul, Salman Butt, Mohammad Hafeez played last season, said the team would miss the Pakistani flavour this season.
“We were like a family. Shoaib and Umar are not only good cricketers but popular among their team-mates as well at the Knight Riders. We will surely miss them a lot,” he said.
Similar feelings were expressed by Amrit Mathur, the CEO of Delhi Daredevils.
“We are going to miss the Pakistani players because they were key members of our team,” Mathur said.
“Shoaib Malik in fact was a very important member of the side and very cooperative we will miss his presence. One would have liked Pakistani presence in the IPL,” he said.
Fraser Castellino, the CEO of Rajasthan Royals, said he was disappointed but nothing could be done if the government didn’t allow Pakistani players to play in the IPL.
“Definitely we will miss someone like Sohail Tanvir who performed so well for us or even Kamran Akmal. It means we have to reorganize our team and plans for the new season,” Fraser said.
Another team official said Pakistani players had added value to the IPL but the league would continue to prosper without them.
Niranjan Shah said there was nothing the Indian board or IPL could do since the players were not allowed to travel to India by their foreign ministry.
But most of the former Pakistani players supported the government decision pointing out that in current scenario it was better to avoid going to India.
“It would be wise if our players are patient and wait for relations to improve between the two countries,” former Test captain Rashid Latif said.