Afridi was a part of the Adam Gilchrist-led Deccan Chargers in the first edition of the IPL.
The much-awaited thirteenth edition of the Indian Premier League, which was not looking feasible at a point of time, finally flagged off on September 19th in the UAE. Defending champions Mumbai Indians faced MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings in the season opener at Abu Dhabi as the world finally witnessed the start of the T20 extravaganza.
Since its inception in 2008, the tournament has emerged as the premier domestic T20 competition across the globe. Be it humongous knocks, match-winning bowling shows or impressive fielding efforts– several elements have helped the league in becoming the most sought-after competition.
Almost every budding player from cricket-playing nations dreams to play in the IPL one day. But talking about players from Pakistan, they’ve been away from the competition from the 2009 edition. After the inaugural edition which featured several Pakistan players like Shoaib Akhtar and Umar Gul, they were banned from the tournament in 2009 due to political tensions between India and Pakistan.
IPL is a very big brand and an excellent opportunity: Shahid Afridi
Former Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi, who was a part of the Adam Gilchrist-led Deccan Chargers in the first edition of IPL, has opined that players from his country are missing a ‘big opportunity’ by not playing in the league. Pakistan also have their own Pakistan Super League (PSL) but the tournament is relatively new in terms of experience and monetary aspect.
According to Afridi, many Pakistani players including their stalwart Babar Azam can go and play under pressure and share dressing rooms in the tournament. In his only IPL season, Afridi had scalped 9 wickets along with scoring 81 runs for Deccan Chargers.
“IPL is a very big brand & it’s an excellent opportunity for, whether it’s Babar Azam or many other Pakistani players to go & play under pressure & share dressing rooms. So, in my opinion, Pakistani players are missing a big opportunity by not playing in IPL,” said Afridi told Arab News in an interview.
Afridi also opined that sports could play a vital role in improving the ties between the cricket-obsessed countries. Cricket is regarded as a ‘religion’ in India and Pakistan, which can ultimately help in ironing out their differences.