Dashing all-rounder Shahid Afridi has called on the Indian Premier League (IPL) to include Pakistan players since relations between the two nations are improving.
Pakistan played India in the World Cup semifinal in Mohali, a game watched by Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Gilani on the invitation of his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh, who was also present.
“It is high time the Pakistani cricketers also get a place in the IPL. For three seasons, including the current one, we haven’t been a part of the IPL. We have no problems playing in India as we have just played a World Cup semifinal there,” Afridi was quoted in Daily Times.
Players from Pakistan featured in the inaugural version of the IPL but, following the Mumbai terror attack in November 2008 and its diplomatic fallout, they weren’t picked by any of the franchises for the subsequent two editions.
“I am not saying I want to play the IPL but it could be a great platform for youngsters. They could make a mark for themselves,” Afridi said.
Afridi added the inclusion of Pakistan players in the IPL was an opportunity for both countries to improve relations.
“Our PM responded positively to that invitation. Now IPL can be a platform to further ease the tension,” he said. “We should play more against each other. This will not only ease the pressure but will also reduce the unwanted media hype surrounded with Indo-Pak matches.”
Meanwhile, Afridi has ruled out returning to play Test cricket despite being urged to lead the side in all three formats of the game by former skipper Imran Khan, according to India Today.
Afridi decided to retire from Test cricket last year although he was named captain for the entire Test and one-day series against Australia and England.
He retired from Tests after Pakistan lost to Australia under his captaincy and since then the flamboyant all-rounder has focused on playing just one-dayers and Twenty20 cricket.
“I don’t think I am the sort of player who is ideal for Test cricket. So I have no plans to make a comeback to Test matches,” Afridi told reporters at a function hosted for the World Cup team.
Afridi insisted that he enjoyed playing limited overs cricket and wanted to focus on these two formats and do justice to his captaincy.
“I am thankful to those former players who believe that I should also lead the team in Test matches but I don’t think I am cut out for the five-day format,” he said.
Imran has said that Afridi can return to Test matches primarily as a bowler.
Afridi, however, said that he was keen to make up for his relative lack of success in batting.
“I will focus a lot on my batting on the coming tour to the West Indies because I know people want to see me scoring runs. Now even my daughter has started saying ‘Baba Boom Boom out’,” Afridi said.