There are many love-hate relations we have seen in our life but whenever there is Indian Premier League is being played in India one love-hate relationship goes over the top. That relation is between Pakistanis and IPL. On one side, the Pakistanis desperately want to see their players playing in IPL but on the other, they hate the same league just because their players aren’t allowed to play there.
We all know that the terror attacks on Mumbai or the 9/11 attacks happened just a few months after the first edition of the IPL got over. In that first season, many superstars from Pakistan played IPL. But, after those deadly attacks in which the perpetrators were sponsored wholly and solely by the Pakistan government IPL governing council decided that no Pakistani player will be allowed to play in the league anymore.
If my memory serves me right in 2009 IPL auctions there was a full battery of Pakistani players listed but none of them got purchased. Whenever the name of a Pakistani player was announced by the auctioneer all franchises’ representatives would shut their mouths and look around at each other. Probably this was a staged drama by the IPL governing council along with the franchises, one would never know but for an average Indian, it was soul-soothing to see what happened to Pakistani players who kept their mouths shut after the 9/11 attacks.
Ever since that day, no Pakistani player was allowed in the list of any auction of IPL. So Pakistan players then started playing in other T20 leagues across the globe like BBL, CPL, BPL, SLPL, etc. Some eight years back even when Pakistan wasn’t playing its home games at ‘home’ the PCB started Pakistan Premier League or PSL. To be honest and being a cricket fan, I must admit that PSL is really doing good in getting attention not only of the international cricketers playing in it but also from watchers across the world.
But the subject of today’s discussion came into the picture right from the start of PSL itself. Within a few years of PSL, the PCB like any other Pakistani institute would do started comparing their league with IPL. Like a true Pakistani institution, the PCB and its chairmen told their countrymen that PSL is far better than IPL. Ever since then Pakistanis and IPL have got this love-and-hate relationship going on. This relation can be seen as a separate one or also part of overall bilateral cricket relations between India and Pakistan as well.
The problem with Pakistanis is that despite the known fact that the Pakistan government is directly involved in terrorist activities in India they still want Indians to remain ignorant of this fact, behave normally, and play cricket with them. Pakistanis and IPL’s love-hate relationship is also the same. On one hand, they desperately want Pakistan players to play the world’s biggest and grandest cricket league and on the other, they say that their poor PSL is better than IPL.
It is not that only normal Pakistan citizen thinks along the above lines, even former Pakistan cricketers and commentators, writers, and even Pakistani Cricket YouTubers are of the same opinion. People like Javed Miandad are of the opinion that it doesn’t make any difference if India or the BCCI doesn’t allow Pakistan players to play IPL. At the same one can see Javed Miandad likes taking part in various TV debates that are based on IPL.
A certain set of Pakistan cricket analysts are of the opinion that like in 2008 if Pakistan cricketers do play the IPL the value of IPL is only going to increase. There is no doubt that Pakistan players like Babar Azam, Muhammad Rizwan, Shahin Shah Afridi, and many others are the best cricketing talents. But without such players, IPL is doing way better than the rest of the cricket leagues being played in the world. Plus if adding value means keeping mouths shut when there is a terror attack in India sponsored by your own government, then there is no need for such inhuman value to be added.
I would also like to add one more point here and that is that not only Pakistan but other teams also many world-class players are getting ignored in IPL auctions and yet IPL hasn’t lost its charm and excitement. A recent example is Dasun Shanaka of Sri Lanka. This extremely talented and in-form Sri Lankan was ignored by all ten franchises during the last IPL auction. There was a huge cry of disappointment across the IPL fan base in India on this strange development. It was Kane Williamson’s injury during the first match of IPL 2023 that made it possible for Shanaka to enter the IPL scenario when Gujarat Titans replaced him with the Kiwi legend at the base price.
So, the point here is that just like we say that a player is not greater than the team or sport, the same goes with any tournament. Yes, only the presence of certain kinds players of does make a long-lasting impression on a tournament but if he doesn’t play or doesn’t allow to play a tournament then someone else will take all the attention with him. This is a fact and all Pakistanis should understand this and accept this.
In this special relationship between general Pakistanis and IPL if it was not enough then the former Pakistan Prime Minister and captain Imran Khan too gave his bits last week. He called India (read BCCI) arrogant by not allowing Pakistan cricketers to play the IPL because it can generate huge funds for the game. Well, Imran Khan in a way is right but I feel arrogant is not the correct word. If former Prime Minister Imran Khan doesn’t know the real reason for India and the BCCI not allowing Pakistan players to play IPL then no other Pakistan citizen will.
The desperation for former Pakistan players and commentators to see their players playing IPL is that they are not allowed to earn hefty chunks of money from this cash-rich tournament. It has nothing to do with the increasing value of IPL or improving relations between people of these two countries through it, the only reason is money. If Pakistan players are allowed to play IPL then the former Pakistan players will also be invited to India for commentary or coaching and not to forget the media persons as well. So at the end of the day if Pakistan cricketers are playing the IPL then the remainder of the procession will follow and everyone will earn good money out from it.
But, the truth will remain that no Indian government will allow bilateral cricket between India and Pakistan to start till the Pakistan government stops providing facilities to terrorists sitting inside their country. Indian public also doesn’t care about this after 14 years since the last time any Pakistan player played IPL. The logic that some of the former Pakistan cricketers serve is that because BJP is in the center it is impossible that Pakistan players will play IPL. But then in 2009 and till 2014 for 6 years there was a Congress government in the center and Pakistan cricketers were still not allowed to play this glittering tournament.
Bottom line is that till Pakistan accepts its role in sponsoring terrorism in India and starts behaving like a responsible state IPL will remain far away dream for them. Even the Indian public will oppose any move to allow Pakistan players to play IPL before Pakistan gets a responsible state. So till then, Pakistanis and IPL will have the same love-hate relationships going on. We will continue to see frustration being thrown by their current and former players on their TV channels on why they are not allowed to play IPL.
That’s all from me today. Till we meet next time it’s Aavjo from my side.
8th April 2023, Saturday