New Delhi:Security concerns and political shenanigans have cast a big shadow on the Indian Premier League Season 3, to be played barely a month from now.
Australian cricketers of the Deccan Chargers franchise have indicated they may not participate this season due to the Shiv Sena threat and their team does not want to play without them. IPL commissioner Lalit Modi, who can ill-afford hiccups so close to the tournament, has said all eight teams will play.
Australian players in the Deccan Chargers team on Tuesday asked the Maharashtra government to guarantee their security in the wake of the Shiv Sena threat that no Australian player would be allowed to play in the state. An assurance was quick in coming from the Maharashtra Chief Minister, but the Australian cricketers have said they will only confirm in a week whether they will travel to India for the IPL matches or not.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan has promised that: "Everyone in Maharashtra is safe, provided they have come here legally. I don't see the need to respond to these questions every day. If teams have concerns we will speak to them and provide whatever is required." But will that be enough?
Lalit Modi certainly hopes so. "Reports that DC will not play or x y z may not -- please ignore such news. All IPL teams will participate. You have my assurance on that," Modi said on twitter.
But the Deccan Chargers, who won the Season 2 tournament under their Australian captain Adam Gilchrist, have strongly hinted that they may not participate in the tournament if their four Australian players, critical in the victory last year, do not play.
"If the Australian players do decide not to participate in IPL 3, the Deccan Chargers may take a decision to even skip the IPL because they are the major chunk of the team. They are already hurt that the matches have been shifted out of Hyderabad," G.Vinod, president of the Hyderabad Cricket Association said.
The Deccan Chargers issued a legal notice to the IPL on Monday asking that seven matches shifted out of Andhra Pradesh be returned to the state. The Telangana crisis in Andhra Pradesh prompted the IPL to shift five matches out of Hyderabad and two out of Vizag. Ironically, among these matches is the opening match on March 12 which the IPL organisers moved out of Hyderabad to Mumbai because of security concerns brought about the disruption of some cricket matches by pro-Telangana protestors. Now, the Australians are loath to play in Mumbai.
The notice sent by the Chargers' solicitors, states that the decision to shift the matches has been taken "arbitrarily, unilaterally, without our client's consent and in complete breach of the Franchise Agreement dated April 10, 2008 pursuant to which the rights and obligations of both the parties i.e. BCCI-IPL and the Franchisee, i.e. our client are governed".
It also pointed out that there was no confirmation or assurance from the Shiv Sena that the team's Australian players would be allowed to play without any disruption in Maharashtra. So, the Australian players have asked the Maharashtra government to guarantee their safety at the matches in Mumbai and Nagpur.
The Shiv Sena has made threats repeatedly and chief Bal Thackeray's said again on Monday that "Australian players cannot play matches in Maharashtra". The Sena claims this is in retaliation against attacks against Indians in Australia.
There are 13 matches scheduled to be played in Maharashtra, and 20 Australian players across seven teams. In fact, only the Mumbai team does not have a single Australian player.
The Congress has taken the fight to the Shiv Sena camp. Senior party leader Narayan Rane said: "The Shiv Sena couldn't stop Rahul Gandhi from coming to Mumbai, so let's see how they'll stop the Australian players from coming here. They can't protect themselves, how will they stop others."
But this weekend's terror attack in Pune at the German Bakery has also led the government to reveal that the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) has a new strategy: To target places frequented by foreigners in cities like Nagpur and Mumbai.
Last year's IPL tournament was played away from home in South Africa, after the dates were found to clash with the Lok Sabha elections and the government voiced its inability to provide adequate security for both the exercises together. There was palpable heartburn. This time, IPL's biggest message has been about coming back to India. So far, however, the homecoming has been far from smooth.
List of Australian players in Deccan Chargers:
Australian players in other IPL teams:
Chennai Super Kings:
Kings XI Punjab:
Royal Challengers Bangalore:
Kolkata Knight Riders:
There is no Aussie player in Mumbai Indians