Mohali: Azhar Mahmood, the former Pakistan allrounder who is now a British citizen, has not been able to play for Kings XI Punjab in the IPL because he has not yet been given an Indian visa. Mahmood had been bought by Kings XI for $200,000 at the 2012 player auction.
The Kings XI management had said Mahmood had taken a short break after playing in the Bangladesh Premier League, but the captain Adam Gilchrist said there had been visa issues. "It's up to the government. I believe that he has not yet got his visa," Gilchrist told a national daily. "When we picked him at the auction, we were given to believe that he would be available for all the matches. But that has not happened. He is yet to get his visa. He is a class player and we are missing him."
Following the 2012 auction, Kings XI had appeared to be one of the weakest teams, and Mahmood was their highest-profile signing. They struggled in the early part of their campaign, losing two games, and are presently second last in the points table. Kings XI are also without Stuart Broad, who is missing the tournament because of injury.
Mahmood is the only player to have represented Pakistan in this season of the IPL. While Pakistan players were part of the inaugural tournament in 2008, they have missed out since then, after cricketing ties between India and Pakistan broke down following the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
IPL chairman and BCCI vice-president Rajiv Shukla said earlier this week that the participation of Pakistan cricketers in the tournament was dependent on the resumption of bilateral ties. "No one is against Pakistan or Pakistani players in India, or else we would not have allowed Pakistani commentators or umpires in IPL 5," he said. "Everything is tied to the resumption of bilateral cricket ties between the two countries. Once that happens, I think everything will happen automatically. The IPL functions under the BCCI and when bilateral relations resume between the two boards, the IPL will also not be a problem for Pakistani players."