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No Govt pressure on IPL over Pak players: Modi

Indian Premier League (IPL) Chairman Lalit Modi, under fire over the IPL snub to PakistanI cricketers, played down the controversy saying that IPL had nothing to with the picking up of any player and it was up to the franchise owners.

IPL franchisees were not pressurised by the Government to leave out Pakistani players during the autcion on January 19 in Mumbai, claimed Modi in an exclusive interview to CNN-IBN at Los Angeles.

Modi not only rubbised claims of Government interfearnce during the Season 3 auction that saw none of the IPL teams bidding for all the Pakistani but also said that in the future Pakistani cricketers would definatly play in the IPL.

“There’s been no mishandling. Franchisees decide on teams. Government has no say. We have never said that government has a say. Let’s leave it at that. Our job is to make sure all players who come in are put into auction. That’s what we do. There are 70 players. Only 11 picked up,” said Modi.

“We can’t do anything about it and there was no pre-decision. All were concerned about availability. That’s how even Australians were picked up. They’ve decided what they think is best for them. They will play in Champions League. I Don’t understand why we’re going over and over about it,” he added.

When asked about Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) decision not to release Pakistani players for the future IPL editions, Modi said, “We will discuss this with the Pakistan board officials when we meet them and I am sure the Pakistani players will return.”

Modi said even now IPL franchisees could pick Pakistani players listed in auction.

“Some teams still have not finished their quota of players and some players could drop out, franchisees can choose Pakistani players as replacements or to fill vacancies,” he said.

Reacting to Union Home Minister P Chidambaram’s criticism that IPL mishandled the bidding and the government never hinted to shun Pakistani players, Modi said, “I don’t think that there’s any mishandling, the franchisees decide on their own. We never said in the first place that the government in any which way nudged up in that direction so it was a decision that was taken by the franchisees and let’s leave it at that.”

Reacting to the controversy Modi further added, “There was no pre-decision. They were all worried about the availability and that’s why the Australians weren’t picked up along with many other players and all that we keep hearing now is one story – about not bidding for Pakistani cricketers.”

Modi also played down Kolkata Knight Riders owner Shah Rukh Khan’s comment that it was humiliating to boycott Pakistan players.

“I am not aware of what Shah Rukh has said and can’t really comment on this,” he said.

While other team owners defended their decision not to bid for Pakistani players, King Khan chose not to toe the line.

“They are the champions, they are wonderful but somewhere down the line there is an issue and we can’t deny it. We are known to invite everyone. We should have. If there were any issues, they should have been put on board earlier. Everything can happen respectfully,” he had been quoted as saying on a news channel.

When asked about Rajasthan Royals coach Darren Berry’s comment that he was keen to pick Umar Akmal, Modi said, “I can’t comment on something that they should have done or they shouldn’t have done. At the end of the day it was the franchisee’s decision, we don’t decide on picking up of any player.”

Pakistani cricketers have said that they feel “hurt” and insulted after none of their 11 players fielded for the IPL auction were picked up.

Pakistan are the reigning Twenty20 world champion.

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