22 January 2010

"Twenty20" by Lalit Modi

In spite of various divisive factors created by politics and religion, cricket has always been a unifying factor between India and Pakistan.

Players from Pakistan are heroes in India as well. In a match in Chennai, when Pakistan won by high quality cricket, the Indian crowd gave them a standing ovation. Likewise, Indian players, and spectators, have received warm reception in Pakistan as well.

Cab drivers (from Pakistan) in Dubai/Sharjah have teased me about a match the Indian team lost to Pakistan; but the tone and tenor was always friendly.

Twenty20 represents the best in business. I liked the odd moment when the Calcutta crowd cheered Shoaib Aktar (playing for Calcutta but hailing from Pakistan) when he took the wicket of a star Indian batsman (playing for a different club) and son of the soil Saurav Ganguly hugged Shoaib and encouraged him to do more! That promised hope for the future.

Twenty20 represents a brilliant economic idea. It cannot afford to ignore high quality players. Players from Pakistan represent high quality. Boycotting players from Pakistan would reduce IPL's brand image as "best of breed".

We need to reject the enemity that radicals in Pakistan nurture against India. We should not reject the people of Pakistan; or its excellent cricket stars.

Silly business idea. Poor political strategy.

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