IPL unites world players

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/a/asif12.jpg' class='caption'> A surreal collaboration caused by the IPL has brought Pakistani cricketers to India to play for city teams rather than for their country.

Updated: May 16, 2008 16:28 IST
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Mumbai, Karachi:

A surreal collaboration caused by the IPL has melted differences and brought Pakistani cricketers to India to play for city teams rather than for their country.

It has turned bitter rivals into allies, who wear the same jersey and share the same dressing room.

"When we played in Hyderabad, Shahid Afridi was at the crease. At that time, Malik and Asif told me that if you bowl to them here or there, he may get out. So it's good we get to know each other and we know other players' weakness and strength," says Delhi Daredevils captain Virender Sehwag.

For 14 years, India never travelled to Pakistan until 2004 when it toured its cricketing neighbour for the friendship series. Since then, India and Pakistan have played a Test or a limited over series every year.

But the friction between the two teams never ceased. The players too say that there's always more pressure in an India-Pakistan match.

But, since the time IPL came along, it eased that conflict, but added a different kind of competitive edge.

"We speak the same language. We might have other problems but there are no issues when we come together to play cricket. Earlier too, we used to fight on the ground sometimes but outside the ropes, we used to share dressing rooms where we would sit and joke around," says Mohammed Asif, member Delhi Daredevils.

The league has thrown together players from almost all cricket playing countries and converted national pride to suburban loyalties.

"It's true that we confront different players. But if you think that we are here to make money, then it's not true and our visit is a waste. We consider Hyderabad as our home team like we treat our Pakistani team. We will perform well and improve and also, we would love to play," says Deccan Chargers player Shahid Afridi.

For the Pakistani people also, the DLF IPL has been a hit because it's not just cricket but a mix of Bollywood glamour and Twenty20 excitement.

"Adam Gilchrist playing with his rivals the Indians and all. It's amazing. And of course, Bollywood adds glitter to the whole thing and it's a great extravaganza," says Ali Shahid, Client Servicing Manager from Karachi.

Almost every sub-continental cricket fan has at some point wondered what a combined India and Pakistan cricket team would be like. The Indian Premier League has in some ways fulfilled that dream. This is probably as good as it gets.

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