The 11th edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) has rolled into action. Mumbai Indians are the defending champions, who won IPL-10 by beating Rising Pune Supergiants by one run in the final last year.
IPL Auctions 2018 were the biggest auction in the history. A total of 578 players were finalised by the IPL. Top Indian stars Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma stole the show as all of them were retained by their respective teams for massive remunerations.
Indian skipper Virat Kohli became the most expensive player in the IPL history as RCB paid Indian Rs170 million for him, which is Rs20 million more than the amount set by BCCI.
Former Indian captain Dhoni is the second most expensive player with 150 million rupees paid by Chennai Super King.
Mumbai Indians’ most successful captain Rohit Sharma got hired for rupees 150 million.
Star all-rounder Hardik Pandya was the most expensive among the young players with rupees 110 million.
Australian duo Steve Smith (Rajasthan Royals) and David Warner (Sunrisers Hyderabad) were hired for rupees 120 million each, but they cannot play after their involvement in ball tampering in South Africa.
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.
In 2010, despite being included in the IPL auction, no Pakistani player was hired.
In 2016 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.
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 the participation of the country’s players in the IPL 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 who are 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.”
Last year, veteran Indian actor Rishi Kapoor through Twitter asked IPL franchise owners to include Pakistani players. He wrote if Afghani players can play in IPL why not Pakistanis.
In ongoing IPL four Afghan players, Mohammed Nabi and Rashid Khan (Sunrisers Hyderabad), Zahir Khan (Rajasthan Royal) and Mujeeb Zadran (Kings XI Punjab) are playing.
During Punjab’s campaign opener in IPL 2018, Mujeeb Ur Rahman became the youngest player ever to play in the tournament. The right-arm off-spinner made his debut at 17 years and 11 days. Kings XI Punjab got his services for Indian rupees 40 million. Mujeeb in 15 ODIs has picked 35 wickets at an average of 16.62.
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 bilateral Test series over a decade.
Now, Pakistani players and fans are not bothered about the IPL as Pakistan Super League (PSL) is considered an opportunity for Pakistan players to showcase their skills and earn big money.
PCB Chairman Najam Sethi believes that PSL will soon be second league, after the IPL in terms of popularity in world cricket.