Thursday, April 16, 2009

Absence of Pakistani Cricketers will hit IPL 2009 SA

Waqar Younis and Rameez Raja believe that the high-profile Indian Premier League has lost some of its charm this season due to the absence of Pakistani cricketers from its second edition and the event's relocation to South Africa.

The former Pakistan skippers were of the view that the cash-rich Twenty20 event will suffer due to its relocation out of India this year as cricket fans back home identified themselves with their respective city teams.

"I have no doubt that the IPL still remains a top event but because it is being held in South Africa it will take some time before the tournament gains momentum this time," Rameez said.

"This time it will take time before fans in South Africa start identifying themselves with the teams," he said.

The Pakistan government restricted its cricketers from participating in the IPL this year after diplomatic relations with India deteriorated in the wake of last year's Mumbai terror attacks.

To add to that, by the time the Twenty20 event was shifted to South Africa after Indian government refused to provide adequate security as it clashes with the general elections, all the eight franchises either suspended or their contracts with the Pakistani players.

However, Rameez had no doubt that the league had helped Indian cricket immensely in many ways.

"Playing alongside and against top international players has given Indian players a lot of confidence and this can be seen in their performances now," he said.

He was of the view that the IPL and the Pakistan-Australia series in Emirates would be a welcome relief to the Pakistani people, who have been living their lives in a volatile security situation.

"Cricket will be a welcome relief and distraction for them. And I think the series with Australia will bring a lot of viewership and interest," he said, adding, "after the Australia series the people will turn to the IPL which would have gained momentum by then."

Rameez will leave for South Africa after the series in Abu Dhabi and Dubai to be a part of the IPL commentary team.

Meanwhile, Waqar said he had no doubt that the absence of Pakistani players from the IPL was a big blow to the event.

"Pakistani cricketers have always been a big pull among the Indian and international audiences and their absence would affect the event," he said.

Although the former Pakistan speedster said the advent of IPL had brought a revolution in cricket, he feels the newest form of the game can never replace Test and one-day formats.

"Twenty20 cricket is pure entertainment and it is good for the sport but in the long run I don't think it will replace Test or ODI cricket," he said.

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