'Shaheen Afridi would be box office. Babar, Rizwan worrisome': Experts pick PAK cricketers for IPL in ‘perfect world’
In a "perfect world", which Pakistan players could have made the cut to bag a lucrative IPL deal?
Pakistan have emerged to be a strong T20 side. In 2021 T20 World Cup, they had scripted an unbeaten run in the group stage to make the semis. A year later, they narrowly missed out on a second T20 World Cup trophy after losing to England in the final. Imagine what it would have been had they been part of IPL. Barring that one season, in the inaugural year in 2008, Pakistan players have never been part of the league owing to political tensions between the two countries. But in a "perfect world", who could have made the cut to bag that lucrative IPL deal? Former cricketers Sanjay Manjrekar and Tom Moody name their picks.
The former Sunrisers Hyderabad coach backed Pakistan skipper Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan and Shadab Khan to be picked by one of the 10 IPL franchises while hailing fast bowler Shaheen Afridi as a "No.1 pick".
“Shaheen Afridi, Babar Azam, Rizwan and Shadab Khan. They have got a number of terrific players, particularly in this format of the game. Shaheen would be your No.1 pick, he would be box office,” Moody was quoted as saying to ESPNcricinfo.
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Manjrekar, on the other hand, named two other Pakistan stars. He felt Haris Rauf could emerge as a hot favourite owing to his death-bowling skills while opener Fakhar Zaman could attract bids as well.
“One of the best death bowlers, Haris Rauf,” Manjrekar said. “I think about their bowlers more than their batters. But Fakhar Zaman would be an interesting choice in certain teams.”
However, the former India batter expressed worry over Babar and Rizwan owing to their anchor-style batting.
“Rizwan is somebody who plays the anchor’s role. Sometimes, I tend to get worried when Babar and Rizwan bat together,” he added.
It was only in 2008 when Pakistan players were allowed to be part of the IPL season. Kamran Akmal, Younis Khan and Sohail Tanvir were part of the triumphant Rajasthan Royals side. Other players who were part of the season were Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Hafeez, Salman Butt and Shoaib Akhtar.