India's home minister, P Chidambaram, has said the exclusion of Pakistan players from the third season of the IPL was a "disservice to cricket" and reiterated there was no government advice to do so. There has been outrage in Pakistan over the snub to their players at the IPL auction, where none of their 11 cricketers, several of whom were tipped to be hot buys, were bid for.
"I think it is disservice to cricket that some of these players were not picked," Chidambaram told the news channel Times Now. "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."
Both the Indian government and the BCCI were quick to distance themselves from the results of the auction after Pakistan players reacted with anger. The Pakistan sports minister had also complained to his Indian counterpart and the PCB raised the issue with the ICC. There have also been calls for the Pakistan hockey team to pull out of next month's World Cup in India, and a parliamentary committee canceled a trip to India in response to the non-inclusion of Shahid Afridi and Co.
Asked whether he thought Pakistan was over-reacting to the issue, Chidambaram said, "Well, you see, if no player from a country is picked, obviously the country does feel insulted. But whether the reaction is proportionate or not it is not for me to comment."
Two senior Pakistani officials, sports minister Aijaz Hussain Jahkrani and PCB chairman Ijaz Butt, have also reportedly ruled out the participation of cricketers from that country in next year's IPL and the Champions League Twenty20 tournament later this year.
Meanwhile Darren Berry, a member of the Rajasthan Royals' coaching staff, wrote in his column in the Australian daily, the Age, that until a few weeks ago highly rated 19-year-old Pakistan batsman Umar Akmal was the franchise's main target at the auction. However, for reasons Berry wasn't sure of, Akmal dropped off Rajasthan's radar.
"I do know - due to my coaching role with the Rajasthan Royals - that a few weeks ago Umar Akmal was No. 1 priority on the Royals' shopping list," he wrote. "All of a sudden he was not available. As the auction unfolded live on TV in India, it became evident that it wasn't just Umar Akmal who was in the no-go zone, but all of the Pakistan players."