Modi-fied IPL

Modi-fied IPL

I wrote in my previous blog that reality should surface and the accountability of IPL governing body on IPL auction 2010 was disastrous – the controversy regarding the non-bidding of Pakistani players for the third season of the Indian Premier League. Controversy erupted after none of 11 Pakistani players available for auction were hired by any of the eight teams. Pakistan alleged that Indian Government through IPL body and franchisees had snubbed Pakistani cricketers after pre-planning.

Initially it was a knee jerk reaction from Pakistani cricketers and PCB and they commented profusely against Indian Govt. and IPL left, right and centre. Now they are realizing that these kinds of allegation and counter allegation will not lead to any solution. Players now understand that their ire has been hijacked by the media for sound bytes and TRP only; they’ve been made the pawns in a battle of the bytes.

After enough brickbats for more than a week both the sides seems to be moving towards a mean path. The cricketers, led by Afridi, are rushing to douse the embers. In a press release on Tuesday, Afridi expresses his eagerness to ‘forgive and forget’, claims he will happily visit India to play in the IPL, and in a way snubs both his chairman and the sports minister, who had announced that no Pakistani players would participate in the IPL again.

Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi who was initially upset at being snubbed said to the media:

When you think about it, Pakistan and India have much more in common than there are differences. We need to build our relations rather than break them. Sport should be used to build peace between our great nations, not break them. Although Pakistan and India have borders, these borders cannot divide humanity.

It was really a sporting gesture from Afridi and Sympathy continues to pour in for the snubbed Pakistani cricketers:

SRK sympathize

Kolkata Knight Riders owner Shahrukh Khan who was the first person to come in support of the Pakistani players said “I believe my country stands for democracy, goodness and welcome-ness. We should open our arms to everyone and I think we should have a little more leeway in involving people from all over the world to come and showcase their talent.”

Shahrukh Khan added “They are the champions, they are wonderful but somewhere down the line there is an issue and we can’t deny it. We are known to invite everyone. We should have. If there were any issues, they should have been put on board earlier. Everything can happen respectfully,”
We can well recall that Shahrukh Khan who had taken active part in the bidding of the players in the first season had shown keen interest in Pakistani players. He had roped in Umar Gul and maverick Pakistani pacer Shoaib Akhtar in the first season. In fact both the players played pivotal roles in few matches in the first season.

In fact, SRK’s statement is one eighty degree opposite to his Bollywood compatriots Preity Zinta and Shilpa Shetty’s statement who went out in full support of the fairness of the bidding process.

Sports Minister MS Gill not far behind

Indian Sports Minister MS Gill echoed Shahrukh and commented:

I have seen the graceful response of some Pakistani cricketers to the IPL auction fiasco. I welcome the remarks and hope there will soon be an opportunity for these boys to play exciting cricket in India.”  He also added that there should be ‘little lesson’ from this ‘fiasco’. Gill had always maintained that the Government had nothing to do with the bidding of the players.

Lalit Modi-fied now!

IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi who had initially hit back at the allegation of any foul play seems to have softened his stand on the issue recently. While speaking to media Modi said “I am sure the Pakistani players will return. We will discuss this with the Pakistan board officials when we meet them.” Modi also added that “Some teams have still not finished their quota of players and some players can still drop out. In that case, franchises can choose Pakistani players as replacements.”
The close aides of Modi say that the recent remark by home minister was a real cause of concern for Modi and he was forced to evaluate things in fresh perspective.

Earlier Home Minister P Chidambaram has lamented the exclusion and said that the “These players were coming as individuals; it was not a Pakistan team.” He added that “I think it is disservice to cricket that some of these players were not picked. I don’t know why the IPL teams acted in the manner they acted. But certainly to suggest that there was a hint or nudge from the Government is completely untrue.”

The particular phrase- ‘disservice to cricket’ was impregnated with a lot of meaning which propelled Modi and his team to reconsider Pakistani players for IPL-season 3.

Government should govern CLEARLY!

The reality is that most IPL franchisees may have thought twice over selecting Pakistani players, given the security concerns that the presence of cricketers from the neighbouring country in an IPL match would have raised. No IPL team owner would like to have taken that risk in view of the huge financial stakes involved.

Pakistan Sports Minister Ijaz Jakhrani has urged the Indian government to initiate an inquiry into the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction fiasco. Jakhrani said while it was quite clear that the ‘snub’ was deliberate and influenced by certain quarters, New Delhi must come out with the actual details regarding the issue. Referring to Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s statement that the decision to ignore Pakistani players was a ‘disservice’ to the game of cricket, Jakhrani said his (Chidambaram’s) remarks was a positive sign and it vindicates Islamabad’s stance.
“The statement makes it crystal clear that there was involvement of a third player in influencing the IPL auction,” he added

The important point here is whether the government’s stance on selection of Pakistani cricketers for the IPL tournament was in the country’s interest or not. Home Minister P Chidambaram has already clarified that the government had granted visas to all Pakistani cricketers and it had not sent out any advisory to the IPL franchisees on not choosing players from the neighbouring country. The statement was supplemented by IPL body when the IPL had already denied any government interference and stated that the T20 league officials had never said that the Indian government did not grant permission to the Pakistani players.

The moot point is whether the Indian government should have gone a step further to assure the IPL team owners that they or their matches would not be a problem even if they selected Pakistani cricketers.
A categorical and public assurance from the government on security for Pakistani players in the IPL tournament would certainly have cleared the air. If the government is to be blamed, it should be for its failure to give a clear go-ahead on the question of Pakistani players in IPL teams.

Modi-fication to Modification

Government need to investigate this ‘fiasco’ quite seriously. The incidence has really tarnished our image of a democratic liberal nation greatly and somewhere puts us in the same plank with Pakistan in South Asian geo- political tension. Such incidence in Indian soil actually weakens our case against Pakistan in international arena.

From the day one as IPL stated in 2008, Mr.Modi is the man who hogged the limelight so much so that IPL and Modi became synonymous with one another and he became the be-all and end-all character for this “Manoranjan ka baap” show.
And as we all know that absolute power corrupts absolutely, Modi’s fall is imminent and this incidence is perhaps just going to open the Pandora box.
Is It Mr.Lalit Modi’s high handedness or autocratic way of maneuvering things that costs our image so dearly?

We all want the government of India to intervene in this issue and let us know who were responsible in keeping Pakistan cricketers away from the IPL. From day one my stance is that the IPL decision was an ‘influenced one” – and the proofs are plenty now.

Modi and his team are definitely now answerable to BCCI, Indian government and big cricket fraternity- specially to cricket lovers.
After all, which cricket fan would not want to see the explosive Afridi or a dangerous Sohail Tanvir take the field and entertain us?

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