NEW DELHI: Shahid Afridi feels deeply hurt and has appealed to the Indian cricket board that Pakistan players shouldn’t be treated as "untouchables" when it comes to including them in the cash-rich Indian Premier League.
"It is high time that Pakistani cricketers should also get a place in 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. We are deeply hurt that they are treating us like ‘untouchables’," Afridi said from Karachi.
He further added that Pakistani public feel hurt that their players are not playing in IPL.
"I am not saying that I want to play IPL but it could be a great platform for youngsters. They could make a mark for themselves."
As many as 11 Pakistan players were part of inaugural season of IPL in 2008. Afridi was the costliest Pakistani player who was bagged by the Hyderabad team for $675,000.
Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul, Mohammad Hafeez and Salman Butt (Kolkata Knight Riders), Younis Khan, Sohail Tanveer and Kamran Akmal (Rajasthan Royals), Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Asif ( Delhi Daredavils) and Misbah Ul Haq (Royal Challangers Banglore) were the other players .
Pakistani players missed out on the 2009 and 2010 editions due to security concerns in the wake of Mumbai terror attacks.
Afridi has said that Indian PM Manmohan Singh’s invitation to Pakistani PM for the semifinals was a positive sign and that is the way to go forward.
"Our PM Yusuf Raza Gilani responded in positive on that invitation. Now IPL can be a platform to further ease the tension," he said.
"We should play more and more against each other. This will not only ease the pressure but will also reduce the unwanted media hype surrounded with Indo-Pak matches," he said.
For Afridi, Indo- Pak matches are not war as players of both teams share great rapport off the field.
"On field, yes there are moments of pressure and tension whenever we play but off it, we are all friends. I share great bond with Harbhajan and respect Sachin a lot," said Afridi.
On his criticism of Gautam Gambhir’s statement about dedicating the WC win to the people who died in Mumbai terror attack, Afridi said that he did not say anything about Gambhir.
"I never heard Gautam saying anything like that, so how could I react over that. It is ridiculous," he said.(PTI)