Pakistan players’ fate in IPL auction doubtful

Escalating tension between India and Pakistan in the aftermath of last November’s Mumbai terror attacks has put the IPL franchises in a dilemma whether to bid for the five Pakistani cricketers in the auction slated for February 6 in Goa.

T A Sekar, consultant and one of the managing committee member of the Delhi Daredevils, said on Saturday that “it is still ambiguous whether Pakistan players will be extended visas by the Indian government for the matches starting April 10”.

“There has been many positives about the rules for the second edition of the Indian Premier League but this clause of including the Pakistanis among the 114 players available for bids at Goa is still unclear,” Sekar said.

“The Pakistan Cricket Board is also testing the waters having denied permission to its hockey and squash players to compete in tournaments in India this year,” he added.

However, those who have been frequenting the country and have a five-year visa like Wasim Akram, could be considered by the franchises.

“The IPL franchise officials have to work hard to get to know which of the five players cleared by PCB hold five-year visas like Akram and others.

“As of now, we understand that fresh visas are not being extended to Pakistani nationals. It is also to be seen whether the atmosphere and the relations between the countries hold good by the time the second edition starts and whether Pakistan players can travel to India,” Sekar said.

Pakistan Sports Minister Pir Aftab Shah Jilani said on Friday that the ministry has extended no objection certificates to players to compete in the IPL this year.

Asim Kamal, Yasir Hameed, Danish Kaneria, Mohd Hafeez and Yasir Arafat are the five players who have been listed as available from Pakistan for bidding at the Goa auction.

On January 2, Pakistan government refused permission to its national hockey and squash teams to participate in tournaments in India citing security concerns after New Delhi had denied its cricket team to play a scheduled Test series in Pakistan following the Mumbai terror attacks.

Last year, Pakistan cricketers including new captain, Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik, Sohail Tanvir, Shahid Afridi, Misbah-ul-Haq, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammed Asif and Kamran Akmal featured in the IPL for different teams.

Talking about the rules for this edition’s IPL, Sekar feels that some of them would provide a level playing field.

“Removal of the 15 per cent cap on icon players so that any overseas player could be bought at a higher price than what was paid to Indian icon stars (who will receive the same amount that was paid to them last year), the teams are allowed to have 10 overseas players in the squad but only four could be fielded in the playing XI.

“Replacement is allowed if a player is injured or otherwise before the season starts and contracting uncapped players were some of the welcome changes in the rules,” he said.

As for Delhi team, Sekar said, “We are now looking to include just one more player having contracted three young Australians outside the auction. The rule in this regard is a welcome change. It has been done with a vision to help out youngsters in India and abroad. Now we are allowed to draw players who have not played for their respective countries and such players come at a cheaper price than the icon players.”

The Delhi team, which lost to ultimate winners Rajasthan Royals in the semi-final in the last edition, had last December roped in New South Wales batsman David Warner, a new sensation in the Australian batting line-up, Victoria all-rounder Andrew McDonald and Victoria left-arm pacer Dirk Nannes.

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