Allow Pakistan players back into IPL - Afridi

Shahid Afridi is mobbed by the press outside his house AFP

Shahid Afridi, the Pakistan captain, has said called on the IPL to include Pakistan players with relations between the two countries steadily improving. Pakistan played India in the World Cup semi-final in Mohali, a game watched by Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Gilani on the invitation of his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh, who was also present.

"It is high time the Pakistani cricketers also get a place in the IPL. For three seasons, including the current one, we haven't been a part of the IPL. We have no problems playing in India as we have just played a World Cup semi-final there," Afridi told PTI.

Players from Pakistan featured in the inaugural version of the IPL but, following the Mumbai terrorist attack in November 2008 and its diplomatic fallout, they weren't picked by any of the franchises for the subsequent two editions, and will also not be part of the tournament that starts on Friday.

"I am not saying I want to play the IPL but it could be a great platform for youngsters. They could make a mark for themselves," Afridi said.

Afridi added the inclusion of Pakistan players in the IPL was an opportunity for both countries to improve relations. "Our PM responded positively to that invitation. Now IPL can be a platform to further ease the tension," he said. "We should play more against each other. This will not only ease the pressure but will also reduce the unwanted media hype surrounded with Indo-Pak matches."