New Delhi: The Indian cricket fans might be engrossed in the England series but, without doubt, the contest they are all eagerly awaiting is the two T20 and three ODI series against Pakistan, starting December 25.
While the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) welcomed the resumption of bilateral series between the two teams after the government’s go-ahead, it has also decided to clearly demarcate their stance on the Pakistan team and Pakistani players.
The Indian Premier League (IPL) governing council has discreetly informed the franchises, after their meeting on November 21, not to pick Pakistan players during January’s IPL player auction. It fears that any new controversy might completely tarnish the image of the IPL, though they have officially deferred the matter till the next meeting.
The IPL governing council includes chairman Rajiv Shukla, Arun Jaitley, Ravi Shastri, Anirudh Chaudhary, MP Pandove, among others.
According to sources, the Board is wary of several factors, including recent spot-fixing allegations against Pakistani players, their off-field misdemeanors and the practical problem of providing extra security as well as threats of disruption from political outfits against their participation.
A top BCCI official confirmed to MAIL TODAY that the board isn’t keen on Pakistan players participating.
“We are trying to discourage the franchises against picking them during the auction. And there are obvious reasons for it,” he said without elaborating on the issues.
Pakistan players, including Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Akhtar and now-banned Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif all played in the first year of IPL but were released from their contracts subsequently.
Asif was banned for one year after being found guilty of using banned drug Nandrolone and later BCCI, in wake of 2008 terror attacks, had shut the doors on them.
Only Azhar Mahmood, a former Pakistan player was part of last IPL but he was picked as a British citizen.
The decision should come as a shocker to several Pakistan players who were hoping that resumption of ties could also pave their way to IPL riches.
Franchises though are quite comfortable with the BCCI mandate.
“There aren’t too many big players to pick anyways, and most of us have very limited slots. Maybe if those players were available, Saeed Ajmal would have been a major draw or Abdul Razzaq or Umar Akmal,” a franchisee owner said.
“But IPL was running well even without Pakistan players, and if the BCCI thinks its fine, we are fine with it."