The tenth edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) has exploded into action. Sunrisers Hyderabad are the defending champions, who won IPL-9 by beating Royal Challengers Bangalore by eight runs in the final.
In the 2017 IPL Player Auction, out of 351 players, only 122 were hired from other countries and six from Associate countries.
England all-rounder Ben Stokes was the most expensive player, picked for Rs14.5 crore by Rising Pune Supergiants. Karn Sharma was the most expensive Indian player hired for Rs3.2 crore by Mumbai Indians.
Pakistan’s players remain deprived of the chance to show their talent in the IPL. That has been BCCI’s policy since after the first IPL in 2008, in which 11 Pakistani cricketers played for different franchises. In 2010, despite being included in the IPL auction, no Pakistani player was hired.
Interestingly, Wasim Akram and Ramiz Raza have played important roles as coach and commentator. If BCCI can allow coaches/mentors and commentators from Pakistan, why not cricketers?
Last year then International Cricket Council (ICC) president Zaheer Abbas said that he would ask the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) top brass to consider including Pakistani players in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
He told the media that if Pakistani players were included in the IPL, “it would raise the importance and status of the league”.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Shaharyar Khan in December 2014 admitted that participation of the country’s players in the lucrative Indian Premier League was not possible due to security concerns.
He said that the Indian officials had told him clearly that they had no role to play in Pakistani players not taking part in the IPL.
“The Indian board has said that the franchises want to have Pakistani players — crowd pullers like Shahid Afridi but they don’t for fear of security as the majority of the crowds in India are not favourable to having Pakistani players,” he said.
A few days back Indian actor Rishi Kapoor through Twitter asked IPL franchise owners to include Pakistani players in Indian Premier League. He wrote if Afghani players can play in IPL why not Pakistanis.
In IPL 2017, two Afghanistan cricketers – Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan — make their debut for Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Pakistan players were part of the inaugural edition of the Indian Premier League but have not been invited since the attacks in Mumbai in November 2008.
Azhar Mahmood and Imran Tahir have played in the IPL, but they were allowed to play because they are nationals of the UK and South Africa, respectively.
Though the two nations continue to play cricket in international tournaments, they haven’t played a Test series in nearly a decade.
Notwithstanding the glamour, money and a lot of cricket, the IPL has been hit by several controversies since its launch.
Before the 7th edition, in 2014, the Indian Supreme Court removed BCCI President N Srinivasan for alleged corruption in the IPL.
In November 2014, the Supreme Court ordered that Chennai Super Kings, owned by Indian Cements, should be disqualified with immediate effect.
Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan was found guilty by the Mudgal panel of being actively involved in betting during the 2013 edition.
Indian pacer Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan were arrested for spot-fixing in IPL matches for payments of up to Rs6 million for giving away a certain number of runs in an over.
BCCI suspended the three players from the IPL and referred the matter to its Disciplinary Committee for further action.
But the question is: what did the International Cricket Council (ICC) do? It didn’t take the matter as seriously as it should have.
The international body was very vigorous in taking action against Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt when they were found guilty of spot-fixing in England in 2010.
But in this case, the ICC not only avoided taking any immediate action but instead backed the Indian board, assuring it of “full support”, and welcomed the steps announced by BCCI.
Pakistani umpire Asad Rauf became another victim of ICC’s bias when he was stopped from officiating in the Champions Trophy in England following media reports that indicated he was under investigation by Mumbai police.
Before confirmation of anything, the ICC removed him from the Champions Trophy on the basis of Indian media reports.
The ICC did not mention what the Mumbai police were investigating Rauf for and said it had no further comment to make.
In the fifth season, five Indian domestic players were suspended for spot-fixing. Two IPL players, an actress and around 100 other persons were also arrested at a hotel for using drugs.
First, a TV channel caught five players — Shalabh Srivatava, TP Sudhindra, Abhinav Bali, Mohnish Mishra, Amit Yadav — taking bribes for spot-fixing. BCCI only suspended the involved players and formed an inquiry committee, but no more action was taken.