The Indian Premier League (IPL) has undoubtedly established itself as the pinnacle of T20 cricket, attracting top talent worldwide. However, one notable absence from the league has been players from neighboring Pakistan, who were part of the inaugural edition in 2008 but have been sidelined since then due to political tensions between the two nations. Despite the ongoing rift, former cricketers and experts have shared their views on the potential impact and choices if Pakistani players were to participate in the IPL.
The inaugural IPL season 2008 saw the participation of renowned Pakistani players such as Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Akhtar, Shoaib Malik, and others. Their presence added excitement and intrigue to the tournament. However, due to strained political relations, Pakistani players were subsequently banned from participating in the IPL, leading to their absence for the past 15 editions.
Cricketer-turned-experts Sanjay Manjrekar and Tom Moody have recently expressed their thoughts on the potential impact and choices if Pakistani players were allowed to participate in the IPL.
Sanjay Manjrekar, a former Indian cricketer, believes that Pakistani pacer Haris Rauf would have been a highly sought-after player due to his speed and expertise in death bowling. Manjrekar also highlighted veteran opener Fakhar Zaman and wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan as valuable additions to certain IPL teams. He emphasized Rizwan’s ability to play the anchor’s role but expressed concern about the pairing of Babar Azam and Rizwan batting together.
Tom Moody, the former head coach of IPL franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), immediately identified left-arm pacer Shaheen Afridi as a potential box-office player. Moody also placed his bets on Pakistan captain Babar Azam, Rizwan, and all-rounder Shadab Khan, acknowledging the depth of talent within the Pakistani cricket ranks.
Including Pakistani players in the IPL would inject excitement and competitiveness into the tournament. Pakistani cricketers are known for their immense skill and flair, particularly in the T20 format. Players like Babar Azam considered one of the best batsmen in the world, and Shaheen Afridi, an exceptional left-arm pacer, would bring a new dimension to the league.
Furthermore, the presence of Pakistani players would foster greater cricketing ties and promote cultural exchanges between the cricket-loving nations of India and Pakistan. It could serve as a platform for players from both countries to showcase their talents and bridge the divide between fans.