Former Pakistani captain and bowling legend Wasim Akram has opined that sports shouldn't be a victim of politics as it is with India and Pakistan. He said that players and cricket fans from both sides have suffered because of policies of both countries’ government and he wished to see Pakistani and Indian players playing in each other’s T20 leagues.
The Indian Premier League (IPL) is undoubtedly the largest, most recognized, and richest T20 cricket leagues in the world. In fact, it has become one of the top 10 all-time sporting brands in the world along with MLB, NBA, and the NFL.
Whereas the Pakistan Super League (PSL) is in its infancy and had their first season in Pakistan itself in 2020, before hosting the league for four years in the UAE. The viewership and revenue generated by PSL are nowhere when compared to the IPL.
However, Akram, during an interview with ANI, said that he rues the fact that the IPL doesn't see players from Pakistan, and similarly, the PSL doesn't have Indian participation.
"I have always believed that sports shouldn't be a victim of politics but that is a government subject of both countries and it won't be apt for me to say anything. But as you said in the question itself, yes IPL is one of the most competitive domestic leagues in the cricketing world and I wish Pakistan youngsters get to be a part of it and I also wish to see Indian players playing in PSL," he said.
Akram has been part of the IPL as he was involved in the coaching set-up of the Kolkata Knight Riders franchise for a number of years. He also touched upon the constant comparison between Indian captain Virat Kohli and Pakistani batting sensation Babar Azam.
"I wouldn't like to make any comparison but having said that, I would like to add that Babar Azam is an exceptional talent, he has shown his excellence in all formats, but in patches. I would be very happy if he can see the comparison positively and becomes consistent in his performance like Kohli," he said.
Akram talked about his involvement with the latest T20 league in the world, the Sri Lanka Cricket’s Lanka Premier League (LPL), whose first season is set to be played from November 21 onwards. Akram will be associated with the Galle Gladiators outfit in the tournament.
"The opening match of the IPL this season was watched by approximately 20 crore people making it the most-watched opening day in any sporting league ever. Sri Lanka too has been devoid of any sporting events during this period, so what better way than to embrace the new normal with the most loved sports in the country. I have no doubt that the response of fans to events like this is a huge boost to the sports and the organizers," he pointed.
"Over 90 percent of global sport halted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. People now are hungry for any live sport they can get during this crisis. Though matches are played in empty stadiums, there has been a huge spike in viewership numbers both in television and digital medium. Sports fans too are exploring new avenues to beat the virus and IPL is proof of this," he said.