The Pakistan Cricket Board has not given up hopes of trying to have their players appearing in next year's IPL, even though the league has ruled out their participation for the second season running after the players failed to get visas by the December 7 deadline.
"We haven't left the situation for now," Ijaz Butt, the PCB chairman, told Cricinfo. "We are hopeful that the visas will come through in a day or two and are very hopeful that Pakistan's players will be in the next IPL."
Butt has already striven hard to ensure a Pakistani presence in the lucrative league, meeting chairman Lalit Modi in October to discuss a way back in after the Pakistan government prevented their own players from taking part in the second IPL. Modi then twice extended the deadline at Butt's request for Pakistan's players - five in all - to get the necessary clearance and paperwork in order for them to take part but eventually said another delay would handicap franchise planning and team-building for the next season, due to begin in March.
There are indications that Butt might be willing to take the case further - a senior PCB official told Cricinfo that the chairman had sought help from "higher-ups in government" to resolve the situation and find a way for players to take part. Butt refused to confirm or deny it, insisting only that he was "very hopeful" of a breakthrough.
The PCB will also be heartened by a statement issued by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad on Wednesday which said it had not denied the Pakistan players the visas and that their applications were being processed. "The High Commission was approached by the PCB for issuance of visa to only one player [Sohail Tanvir], while three other players submitted visa applications to the High Commission of India in Wellington [ where the team is currently playing]. These visa applications are being processed," the statement said.
The statement also said the High Commission had not been informed of any deadline for issuing the visas, either by the Pakistan board or the IPL.
Pakistan are the reigning World Twenty20 champions, and several franchises had expressed interest in signing the country's cricketers. Five Pakistan players - Kamran Akmal, Misbah ul-Haq, Abdul Razzaq, Umar Gul and Sohail Tanvir - are already on contract with IPL teams.
Pakistan's players were absent from IPL's second season, held earlier this year in South Africa, after their government did not allow them to travel to India - where the tournament was originally to be held - for security reasons. The decision came in the wake of the Mumbai attacks last year, after which relations between India and Pakistan deteriorated considerably. Eleven players from Pakistan had taken part in the first IPL, though after the Mumbai attacks, only four were retained by their franchises, though their contracts were suspended until further resolution. Razzaq was signed recently by Kolkata Knight Riders.
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo