Pakistani players snubbed at third IPL auction

By Rhys Hayward

Photo: Pete Meade

The depressing plight of Pakistani cricket was further highlighted on Tuesday when their players were shunned at the third IPL auction.

Not one of the eleven Pakistanis on the list, which included the 2009 World T20 winning captain Shahid Afridi and the majority of the squad who defeated Sri Lanka in the final at Lord’s last summer, were picked up by the eight franchises.

The IPL dismissed the snub as a purely cricketing decision based on availability and strategy but with such a delicate political situation existing between India and Pakistan, it seems highly unlikely. After taking part in the inaugural competition two years ago, Pakistani players were excluded from last year’s tournament following the Mumbai bombings.

It had appeared that would once again be the case as the difficulty in obtaining the correct documentation to play in the tournament prevented Pakistani players putting themselves forward for the initial deadline in December.

Involvement from the Pakistani government ensured the players that they would be granted exit visas for the competition however, and the prospect of the likes of Afridi, Abdul Razzak and the young tyros Mohammed Aamer and Umar Akmal competing in the tournament seemed likely.

But nothing is ever assured in the bizarre world of Pakistani cricket and the tone for the auction was set when Afridi, the first name put forward for auction, was left unsold.

There was a mixed reaction from within Pakistan to the decision with the federal sports minister making an official complaint to his Indian counterpart over the “unjust and discriminatory treatment meted out to the Pakistani cricketers.”

Ijaz Butt on the other hand pleaded ambivalence on behalf of the PCB. The chairman stated that “it does not really bother us; what difference does it make to us if our players do not play in the IPL this season?”

It is not however a view which is likely to be shared by the players. With increasing uncertainty over the future of Pakistan as an international outfit, the proliferation of high profile Twenty20 tournaments, of which the IPL is the unquestionable market leader, might be their only opportunity to make a living from the game in the future.

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