CLT20 set to have team from Pakistan
The Champions League Twenty20 is set to have a team from Pakistan for the first time. The BCCI, the league's largest stakeholder, has said it would inform the tournament's governing council ahead of its May 28 meeting that it had no objection to the participation of a team from Pakistan.
The decision was taken at the BCCI's working committee meeting in Chennai today, where it was also decided to distribute approx $13m to ex-Indian players, set up a BCCI anti-corruption unit, and set up matches between IPL teams and Associate/Affiliate countries.
BCCI president N Srinivasan said the CLT20 governing council had already decided to invite a Pakistani team for the next tournament, to be held in India in October; the BCCI was now concurring with that decision. "The CLT20 is owned by the BCCI, Cricket Australia, and Cricket South Africa, so we will recommend to the governing council that the BCCI has no objection and is prepared to invite a Pakistan team," he said.
The news was welcomed by the PCB, which saw it as the first step towards restoring cricketing ties with India. The PCB had been pushing for the inclusion of sides from Pakistan, the only major Test-playing nation to not have teams in either the qualifiers or the main round of the tournament since it got off the ground in 2009. Pakistan were among the countries included in the first tournament, in 2008, but that event was cancelled after the Mumbai terrorist attacks and Pakistani teams had been kept out of subsequent tournaments.
The current champions are Sialkot Stallions - who, coincidentally, were also the representatives in the 2008 tournament that was never held. The Sialkot Regional Cricket Association had requested the PCB last month to make efforts to enable the participation of Sialkot in the Champions League. The PCB, in turn, had said that Sialkot's participation was dependent on the restoration of bilateral ties between India and Pakistan.
Rajiv Shukla, the BCCI vice-president and a minister in the Indian federal government, said there was no interference or green signal from the government. "Though PCB were asking us from the last three years, we did not consider that," Shukla said. "But now we felt it was good time to invite them and have acceded to the PCB request."
It is understood that it was Srinivasan who proposed the matter during the discussion in Chennai. Everyone felt that the political climate was conducive to a team from Pakistan to come and play and the working committee members accepted the proposal unanimously.
Pakistan players are currently excluded from the Indian Premier League as well. Shukla, also the IPL chairman, had said last month that their participation was also dependent on the resumption of India-Pakistan cricket ties.
Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo