It is a clear signal that the Indian government has interfered. If a team says that it did not have any Pakistani players in the past two IPLs, they were just smart enough to read the mind of the Indian government or be on the side of the establishment. You might wonder how that could be the case when we do have regular matches. That is different. It is two nations schmoozing; it is not about wow, let’s do peace. This is about bidding. It has its own dynamics. It means someone is worth something; the monetary part is based to a large extent on talent and ability to perform.
Pakistan are the T-20 champions, and there could not have been a better way to put them down than this. It is like, look guys you might be the winners, but you amount to jackshit in our stakes. You don’t even go under the hammer. This was clearly decided prior to the auction, for if they knew about non-availability they would not even be considered.
It also conveys to the Indian government that the franchisees are very understanding of the real relations between the two countries and will not do any mollycoddling. This is not done for the sake of the team but to send the right message to the relevant ministries (industries, petroleum, information and broadcasting) that, boss, keep us in mind in future. Money is at stake in ways other than on the cricket field.
As regards security concerns, there is nothing new. Remember the Shiv Sena destroying the pitches and warning against playing with Pakistan? Remember that it did not stop cricket matches and we did our friendly act in Lahore and Chennai as a cover-up for the ingrained animosity?
Some reports have mentioned about how demoralised the Pakistani cricket team is. Don’t know about that, and it ought not to be the case given that they know the undercurrents. Shahid Afridi said:
“Cricket is like religion in India and Pakistan. Sport is the only way to bring both the countries together. It is disappointing.”
This is competition and no one is bringing the two countries together. Cricket ceased doing that long ago.