IPL should not have created false hopes

The Indian Premier League auction's hammer has come down hard on Pakistan cricket. Like a jilted lover, the cricket fan here is heart-broken, confused and angry. The question he asks is how could the Twenty20 world champions not have a buyer? The IPL has a huge presence here in Pakistan. The country's only sports channel beams the games live and has successfully replicated the magic of the event that enraptures audiences in India.

Today, however, the mood has changed. The cable operator association has vowed to block the event. The other great Indian import, Hindi cinema, has also come under pressure. The Sports Ministry and Parliament have got the knives out, terming this selection as a snub, and as a great Indian conspiracy to insult the nation and belittle the status of its cricketers. The players seem to be on the same page as the politicians and the media. This is not cricket, they say. All hell has broken loose.

While it is quite possible that the inclusion of Pakistani cricketers would have divided India into 'for' and 'against' camps, and invited controversy for the league and the franchises, care should have been taken in easing them out of action. The task could not have been a simpler one, for the league was faced with a 'doomed if you do and doomed if you do not' scenario. Here you are dealing with global stars who have huge egos, and happen to come from a neighbourhood that is always sensitive to your intentions and moves. The best way out of such a volatile situation is to play with a straight bat, take a decision in advance and not when a crescendo has built up. That the players were given assurances of selection and issued cricket visas created false hopes in the minds of the fans and the media. The process of elimination has been seen by the public here as political and undignified and that has got them hopping mad.

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