Players almost unknown to India have fetched record prices, but there were no takers for the current world Twenty20 champions Pakistan.
That’s the message the third auction of the Indian Premier League sent out on Tuesday, when none of the 11 Pakistanis up for sale received any bids.
No, not even Shahid Afridi, the player of the tournament in the 2007 World Twenty20 and the man of match in both the semifinal and final of last summer’s T20 carnival.
No one would admit there was any directive of any sort to avoid bidding for Pakistani players. All Rajasthan Royals’ co-owner Shilpa Shetty would say was the franchises “were not convinced about their (the Pakistanis’) availability and that’s why did not want to take a risk.”
But privately, bidders admitted it was more than just visa hassles. “There was nothing official told but it was basically a pure business decision,” a franchise official told HT. “The IPL is a commercial proposition, owned by businessmen and no one wanted to risk upsetting the government.”
And Pakistan reacted angrily. PTI quoted Afridi as saying from Brisbane the way he saw it, “IPL and India have made fun of us and our country. We are the Twenty20 World Champions and the attitude of the franchisees was disappointing. I feel bad for the Indian people…”
All-rounder Abdul Razzaq indicated he saw the snub as a joint strategy between the IPL and the government to insult Pakistani players, while Pakistan Cricket Board chief Ijaz Butt told HT he was “shocked”.
“It’s not only shocking, but very disappointing as well. We were hoping that things would be all right and they had also confirmed that most of our players would be considered.”
He also said there were no visa issues with any of the 11 players. “We were given permission to travel to India from our foreign office and the ministry. All 11 Pakistani players in the IPL auction list had their papers ready and the sports minister in India was very kind to expedite things to ensure they were not troubled. I really don't know what went wrong, but it hurts.”
Meanwhile, the other issue that had a couple of top Indian players unhappy was how much players like Keiron Pollard and Shane Bond went for.
“It is quite possible that both Pollard and Bond went for almost as much, if not more, than some of the icon players,” said a player from Bangladesh. “And Roach, a complete unknown (he went for $720,000/Rs. 3.3 crore), must be laughing all the way to the bank.”
While Pollard and Bond both received the maximum open bid possible, of $750,000 (Rs. 3.43 cr), they were both ‘sold’ through tie-breaks, in which the bidding franchise wrote down a closed bid over and above the $750,000 and handed that over to IPL commissioner Lalit Modi.