Indian Premier League February 3, 2009

India unsafe for Pakistan players

Pakistan's decision not to send their players to India for the IPL's second season could be a prudent one at a time when crowds in stadiums could turn hostile towards professional athletes from the country, Sharda Ugra writes in her blog Free Hit

Pakistan's decision not to send their players to India for the IPL's second season could be a prudent one at a time when crowds in stadiums could turn hostile towards professional athletes from the country, Sharda Ugra writes in her blog Free Hit.

So, Kamran Akmal or Umar Gul will always be comfortable in dressing rooms in Jaipur and Kolkata because the professional athlete is essentially apolitical. But out on the field there is no predicting how they would be received in India. No, actually, there is: had there been no announcement, the question of the appropriateness of hosting Pakistanis would have been brought up in a couple of weeks and the protests and threats would have followed.

Imagine for a moment the reaction to a Pakistani cricketer in Mumbai - and not merely from the lunatic fringe whose numbers sadly continue to multiply in the once-liberal metropolis. Now the Mumbai Indians may not have a single Pakistani on their rolls but it would have had to host them in the IPL all the same. How would that have gone down with the citizens of a scarred city? It is of course hardly fair on Pakistan’s cricketers to carry the blame for their government’s role – or even that of “non-state actors” - in 26/11, but then again life was hardly fair to the victims of that night, either.

Nishi Narayanan is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

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