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Will India give visas to Pak cricketers for Legends League Cricket? Organisers seek 'guidance from authorities' (Ld)
New Delhi, Aug 11 - The second edition of the Legends League Cricket (LLC) is set to be played in six Indian cities, with players from many countries participating in the tournament.
The first season of the league was played in January this year in Muscat, Oman between three teams - India Maharajas, World Giants and Asia Lions - and comprised seven games. However, season 2 will have four franchise owned teams. There will be 15 matches, which will be played in six cities -- Kolkata, Lucknow, Delhi, Jodhpur, Cuttack and Rajkot from September 17 to October 8.
Former Indian captain and current BCCI president Sourav Ganguly has also confirmed that he would be participating in a very special match of the LLC.
"Enjoying the training to get ready to play for one off charity fundraising game for azadi ka mahotsav?75 years of Indian independence and also for women empowerment with the top legends of the legends league cricket @llct20 need to hit some cricket balls soon," wrote Ganguly on Instagram.
However, the major concern before the organisers is visa availability for former Pakistan cricketers, who are also set to take part in the tournament. Questions are emerging that has the BCCI or the Government of India altered its stance vis-a-vis its cricketing ties with Pakistan.
Notably, India and Pakistan haven't played a bilateral series for nearly a decade now and they only face each other in Asia Cup and ICC events due to political tensions between the two countries. The Indian Premier League (IPL) also doesn't allow Pakistan players to take part except in the first season of the league in 2008.
Asked about the situation, few BCCI officials aren't much aware about the visa issue.
"I can't say much. If Pakistani cricketers get a visa from our government, then they will play if not then no. We (BCCI) have no role in the tournament or visa things," the official told IANS.
Another official questioned, "how can Pakistan's players be allowed to play on Indian soil when we have no cricketing ties with Pakistan. I am sure they will not get a visa."
Meanwhile, Raman Raheja, Co-Founder and CEO, Legends League Cricket, said, "The upcoming season is a new format with four new teams playing as Franchise owned teams. The players are to be picked under a drafting process. As of now we have held back adding any Pakistan players in the pool. We are in the process of seeking guidance from the authorities if we should add players into the pool or not."
"The same would be done only if Visas and necessary approvals are in place from the concerned authorities. If allowed, the players would be put in the pool. Even then it's not confirmed if these players would play in the upcoming season. Thereafter it would be the drafting process which would define the squads. As a matter of fact, we shall adhere to all the necessary guidelines given by the authorities for selection of any players," he added.
The LLC season 2 has a long list of former cricketers from Pakistan including Shoaib Akhtar, Misbah-ul Haq, Shahid Afridi and many others comprising the Asia and World XI teams. So, it will be interesting to see the Indian government's stance on giving visas to Pakistani players, especially when the nation doesn't have bilateral cricketing ties with the neighbouring country.
It is also noticeable that all Pakistan cricketers, both former and current, many of whom are playing in the League are strong advocates and promoters of the Kashmir Premier League (KPL).
The Government of India and BCCI have strongly objected and condemned the organising of the Kashmir Premier League (KPL) and have banned all cricketers playing in KPL from playing any form of cricket in India.
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