It was tit-for-tat on Monday, when the Pakistan foreign office declared that post the Mumbai terror attacks, India wasn't safe enough for Pakistan's cricketers. The government decision overruled that of the Pakistan Cricket Board, which, only till last week, had stated that its players could play in the second edition of the Indian Premier League.
Shortly after the announcement in Pakistan, IPL commissioner Lalit Modi addressed the media here. "All Pakistan players have been denied entry and exit visas and as a result, no Pakistan player will participate this year," said Modi. The team hit hardest will be IPL champs Rajasthan Royals, who will miss Sohail Tanvir, the inaugural's Best Bowler, wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal and Pakistan skipper Younis Khan. The Knight Riders will miss Umar Gul, the Daredevils Shoaib Malik, the Deccan Chargers Shahid Afridi and the Royal Challengers, Misbah-ul Haq.
In addition, five Pakistani players - Yasir Hameed, Yasir Arafat, Asim Kamal, Danish Kaneria and Mohammad Hafeez - who were due to be part of the IPL's second auction this Friday, were withdrawn.
While the decision is obviously a political one, it would be tough on Pakistan's players, who have little international cricket over the past year. In addition to foregoing this edition's fees, legal wrangles are on the cards. "The players signed for three to four years with the IPL and could only give the event a miss due to injury. Now, we will see the legal standings vis-à-vis the contracts," said Modi.
The IPL governing council also seems to have seen sense in HT's argument that the 111-player list for the auction was too big. The list is down to 43, including players who were not part of the list of 111.
In another development, Modi said a major company had approached Rajasthan for a stake buyout. "I was shocked by the offer," he stated. "The number was big, the valuation was big." He refused to divulge details, saying that the franchisee would make an announcement on Tuesday.