Shahid Afridi has said Pakistan's players were expecting a favourable response from the IPL organisers with respect to their participation in next year's tournament but their exclusion from the tournament will help their prepartions for the ICC World Twenty20. Pakistan's cricketers were ruled out of the competition, due to begin on March 12, after a delay over their visas.
"I think Pakistan have always been supportive of Indian cricket in the past, which is why I was expecting them (India) to be more positive towards us," Afridi, Pakistan's Twenty20 captain, told the News. "But it seems that's not the case. I personally believe that sport promotes harmony and it would have been good for both Pakistan and India had our players been allowed in the IPL.
"I think the absence of our cricketers will not be good for cricket or the IPL."
Pakistan's players were barred from participating in last year's IPL, held in South Africa, following strained relations between India and Pakistan in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks in November. When asked if he was disappointed on missing out again, Afridi said: "Not really. I mean it would have been good to make our IPL comeback next year but it is now clear that we won't be able to do that. It's like we can't do anything about it."
Pakistan's cricketers had received clearances from their sports, foreign affairs and interior ministries, an NOC from the PCB and letters of invitation from IPL franchises for taking part in next year's competition, but fell short of getting the visas in time. Five Pakistan players were trying to clear a path to IPL 2010. Kamran Akmal, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Gul and Misbah-ul-Haq all played in the first season - six others who also played had their contracts cancelled after the Mumbai attacks - and Kolkata Knight Riders had expressed an interest in signing up Abdul Razzaq.
The IPL's third edition runs from March 12 to April 25, after which players join their respective international squads in West Indies for the World Twenty20 beginning five days later. The time gained from their absence in the IPL, Afridi said, would be utilised for their preparation for the World Twenty20. "Now that it has been decided that we are not playing (in the IPL) we will have a perfect window to hold a proper camp and get ready for the Twenty20 World Cup."