Shah Rukh Khan, the the co-owner of the Kolkata Knight Riders franchise, has spoken of the pressures the IPL franchises face in team selection, referring to the recent auction where no Pakistan player received the bid. He also referred to the demands of the Shiv Sena, a regional party, to block Australian players from the IPL.
Shah Rukh described Pakistan's exclusion from the IPL as "humiliating". "I think its actually humiliating to me as a KKR owner that this has happened," he told NDTV. "We are known to be good, we are known to invite everyone, and we should have. And if there were any issues, they should have been put out earlier so that everything could happen respectfully.
"I truly believe that they should have been chosen. As a matter of fact, I'm not going to be the one who is opposite from what everyone else is saying but I wanted Abdul Razzaq. I think it was in the newspapers much earlier than even the auction started. Dada (Sourav Ganguly) was very keen."
Eleven Pakistan players were on the 66 shortlisted for the IPL auction in Mumbai, but none was picked. The players had received NOCs from the PCB to participate in the tournament after the Pakistan government's various ministries had cleared them to tour India. But the uncertainty over strained relations between India and Pakistan in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks in November 2008 could have prompted the franchises to wield restraint. Shah Rukh highlighted the concerns team owners face in such situations.
"I am not giving an excuse and I truly believe Pakistani players are the best T20 players in the world. They are the champions. They are wonderful. But somewhere down the line there is an issue and we cannot deny it," he said. "There is an issue, we cannot keep saying 'Oh this was wrong'. Yes maybe the way it was done was wrong, the way it is being carried out may be wrong. But you can't keep on saying Koi issue nahi hai yaar, woh aa jate (There isn't any issue, they could have come). There is an issue, let's not deny it. Every day we blame Pakistan, every day they blame us, it is an issue."
He also referred to the Shiv Sena's statements against the participation of Australian players in the IPL, as a protest over race attacks against Indian students in Australia. "There is going to be a section of people who have suddenly gotten up and have said, rightly or wrongly, ' Australians will not be allowed to play'", Shah Rukh said. "So here is a set of people who are spending up to 70, 80, 90 crore rupees on trying to win a tournament and suddenly, even if you say this much to me, I'm like 'Uh-oh, so should I take or shouldn't I take him?'
"So tomorrow, if we had known this, maybe even the Australians would not have been picked up. These issues always come prime on your head, the stakes are very high."