IPL: PCB seeks official advice on NOCs

KARACHI: Leading Pakistani stars looking to make a comeback in the Indian Premier League (IPL) next year could be in for an unpleasant surprise as their expected participation in the cash-rich spectacle might face an unexpected hurdle.

“We’ve heard that there could be a problem for players like me who are expected to play in next year’s IPL,” one of the country’s leading players told ‘The News’ on Tuesday.

Requesting anonymity, the player said that he has been told by an official that there exists a lack of communication between the two — Pakistan and Indian — governments which could result in yet another setback for Pakistani cricketers.

“From what I’ve learnt, the Indian authorities are still undecided on clearing the visit of Pakistani players for the IPL,” he said. “Apparently they want our authorities to seek their (India’s) permission for Pakistani cricketers to take part in the league,” added the player.

Cricketers from Pakistan missed the second season of the IPL which was held in South Africa due to strained Indo-Pak relations in the wake of last November’s terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

At that time, the Pakistani government decided against allowing the players to travel to India where the event was originally supposed to take place. Later, the IPL’s organisers shifted the Twenty20 league to South Africa because of security concerns.

Several Pakistani cricketers featured in the inaugural IPL edition last year with some of them including all-rounder Sohail Tanvir — who finished as the event’s most successful bowler — making a major impact while featuring for eventual champions Rajasthan Royals.

PCB chairman Ijaz Butt, however, is not anticipating any hurdles for Pakistani cricketer in their bid to play in the IPL.

He said on Tuesday that the PCB will issue a no objection certificate (NOC) to any player who gets an offer from an IPL franchise. “Any player receiving an offer (from an IPL franchise) will be given an NOC by the PCB,” he said, adding that so far experienced all-rounder Abdul Razzaq is the only player who has approached the Board for a clearance.

“We have given him an NOC,” said.

The PCB chief, who raised the IPL issue with Indian cricket officials during his visit of India earlier this month, said that the NOC has been given subject to clearance from the Pakistani government.

A total of 11 players from Pakistan featured in the inaugural IPL but only four of them were retained by their franchises ahead of the second season.

For the next season, it is expected that around eight to ten Pakistani players could play in the IPL provided they get clearance and visas by November 20.

The players include Sohail Tanvir, Kamran Akmal (Rajasthan), Umar Gul (Kolkata) and Misbah-ul-Haq (Bangalore) — who are already contracted to play in the league as well players like flamboyant all-rounder Shahid Afridi, young pacer Mohammad Aamer and Abdul Razzaq.

Meanwhile, Kolkata officials are hoping that Umar Gul will return to play for them in the IPL.

“From our point of view, Umar Gul is a great bowler and we would definitely want him for the next IPL,” Joy Bhattarcharya, team director of Kolkata Knight Riders, told Cricinfo. “However, whether he will be able to join depends on the understanding between the IPL/BCCI, the PCB and both the governments.”