>IPL Champions without the Champions

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Watching IPL Champions league is like watching a Knight’s duel without umm, the actual Knights. Pakistan, the unquestionable champions of T20 Cricket, are missing in action which is not only odd but shameful as they are currently the hottest property in town.
Pakistan is the only country to have made it to the World T20 World Cup final twice and are current Title holders. Boom boom Afridi has mesmerized many a batsmen with his cunning googlies and beautiful strokeplays is not only the best all-rounder in this format of the game, but also the best player by a long shot. The death over bowling has been totally redefined by Umar Gul, Pakistan’s most dangerous slog over bowler. Not only does he make it impossible for batsmen to score off him, but takes crucial wickets to falter any run chases by the opposition batsmen. This year, when Pakistan won the World T20 World Cup, it was truly special since none of their players were invited to play in the IPL and were therefore considered a team which did not have the requisite experience to win any matches. Not only did they win the World Cup in style, but on the way, they defeated the top teams in the tournament.
The first season of IPL (when Pakistani players actually featured), exploits of stars like Umar Gul, Sohail Tanveer made the tournament not only exciting but made it possible for Shane Warne’s team to lift the title. Did I mention that the best bowling figures are also held by Sohail Tanveer of 6 wickets for 18 runs in unplayable 4 overs. A feat not yet repeated by anyone in IPL thus far.
In the rebel ICL T20 league, Pakistani team was the most exciting and watched team in the tournament. Always making it to the final and playing some entertaining and exciting cricket. Players like Abdul Razzaq, Imran Nazir and Rana Naveed ul Hassan had become a household name.
With no Pakistanis featuring in the Champions league, it is no surprise that it is hardly being followed in Pakistan by the cricket fanatic fans. The newspapers hardly report its progress, and fans never discuss it. It is as if, there is no tournament being played and no cricket happening.
It would truly have been a challenging tournament if Sialkot Stallions (Pakistan’s reigning champion team in domestic tournaments) were invited and allowed to match their skills against the best of the World. It would have been a far more exciting tournament if Pakistani players were allowed to represent various IPL teams that they signed up for many years back.
Making cricket hostage to politics is not only shameful but also deprives the fans of some exciting cricket. Sports is always above politics and sportsmen are there to build bridges not burn them. India’s hegemony over cricket and the world’s governing body turning a blind eye to this “apartheid” is not only pathetic but shameful as well. It seems Australian, British and South African boards are more interested in earning revenues from the Champions league than making it a level playing field for all teams and players.
Maybe one day when ICC (International Cricket Council) can stand up to BCCI (Board for Control of Cricket in India) and make sure that such distorted tactics are not carried into the playing field would we truly enjoy the cricket. Till then, let the boring cricket continue to play in the world.
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About Atif Mumtaz
A serial entrepreneur who loves to travel, discuss politics and hikes on weekends.

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