Pro Kabaddi League franchise Patna Pirates won't be able to field their two Pakistani players during games in Mumbai and Pune, after objection from Maharashtra's far-right political group Shiv Sena. Members of the party had earlier stormed into the Star Sports office on Thursday, 17 July, in protest against the involvement of players from Pakistan in the competition. They had threatened to disrupt the event if the organisers went ahead and allowed the two players to participate in any match taking place in Maharashtra.
Organisers bow down to Sena demands
In a report published in Pakistan's Dawn newspaper, Mashal Sports, organisers of Pro Kabaddi League, stated that players from the neighbouring country wouldn't be allowed to participate in the Mumbai and Pune legs, in light of 'security concerns'. The organisers further explained that the decision had been taken after consultation with Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) and the International Kabaddi Federation (IKF).
Patna Pirates CEO reacts
Reacting to the development, Patna Pirates CEO Pawan Rana told Catch News, "If Shiv Sena has decided not to allow our players to play in the state, then we can't do anything about it. They will play in the other states, but playing in the Mumbai and Pune legs won't be possible." The tournament is being held in eight legs, which means the players will be allowed to play in Jaipur, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Delhi and Patna.
However, with the semis and finale set to be held in Mumbai, Patna will crucially miss the services of the two players in case they make it to the knockout stages. When asked about the possibility of negotiating with Shiv Sena on the matter, Rana answered that it remained out of question, with Sena unwilling to budge from their position.
The players in question
The two players at the centre of the storm are Waseem Sajjad and Nasir Ali. Sajjad had been part of the Patna franchise in the first season of PKL, and had played a key role in the team finishing third the competition. Nasir Ali, on the other hand, is making his debut in the league.
In the 2014 edition of PKL as well, three players from Pakistan were dropped from games in Maharashtra due to threats from far-right groups. Both Sajjad and Ali will miss Patna's opening game of the season on Monday, 20 July, where the team will take on U Mumba in Mumbai.