Pakistani allrounder Abdul Razzaq has become the focal point of a very bizarre twist to the 'Indian Premier League snubbing Pakistani players' controversy.
On Wednesday night, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Ijaz Butt told the Hindustan Times on record that IPL champions “Deccan Chargers had invited Razzaq to represent them” in IPL-III.
“I have asked him to get the letter of invitation on email and I’m expecting a copy of that tomorrow morning. I will then talk to our High Commissioner (in India) and have a word with Razzaq,” said Butt. “I will also follow this up with the franchisee, if need be.”
While no one from the Deccan Chargers responded to queries officially, IPL commissioner Lalit Modi told Hindustan Times that the Chargers “had no money to buy anyone”.
“They have exhausted everything on (West Indies pacer) Kemar Roach in the auction. Even if they had a slot, there's no money unless someone gets injured and is unavailable for the season. In that case, he could be replaced by someone else from the auction pool.”
When HT called Butt back with Modi’s statement, he was livid. “Are you accusing me of lying?” he asked. “I have double-checked and told you categorically that he has an invite to the IPL.”
But if the Chargers haven’t made the offer, then who has? Razzaq incidentally, was very much on the Kolkata Knight Riders shortlist, and apparently even met KKR skipper Sourav Ganguly in this regard in England, but they did not bid for him, using up all their allotted $750,000 to get Kiwi pacer Shane Bond.
There has been a groundswell of criticism in both India and Pakistan of the fact that no Pakistani player was picked at the January 19 auction. On Wednesday, Sports Minister MS Gill stated, “…I hope there will soon be an opportunity for these (Pakistani) boys to play some exciting cricket in India.”
Butt, incidentally, asked whether he would allow Razzaq to play if the invitation was genuine, said there would be no problem. “I had stated very clearly that if the IPL didn’t take our players this year, we would not send them for the event in future. In all fairness, the IPL should still apologise.”
But he added: “Why should we say no to any players going if they are invited? I never had any objection (to this year). And I don’t think our government will mind either. Remember, the IPL started it and not us. They invited our player.”