Lahore: Veteran batsman Younis Khan feels that the IPL will lose its fan base if the Pakistani players, believed to be the major attraction of the game, are not able to participate in the cash-rich Twenty20 tournament.
In the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks last month, various Pakistani players were apprehensive that their contract with the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL) may come to an end, as the relations between the two neighbouring countries were further strained.
''The franchises running teams in the IPL know that Indian and Pakistani players are the biggest attractions in the league.
''The league touched new heights in popularity when Shoaib Akhtar played his first match for the Kolkata Knight Riders as the Eden Gardens was jampacked. Indian people like to watch Pakistani players in action and they are popular there as well,'' said Younis, who had just returned home after playing for South Australia in the Sheffield Shield.
The 31-year-old, who played just one match for the Rajasthan Royals, the champions of the inaugural IPL earlier this year, hoped that the India-Pakistan relations would improve before the start of the new season in April.
''I think it is premature to think about our participation in the IPL,'' he said.
Younis further expressed his disappointment at the cancellation of the Indian team's tour to Pakistan as he believed politics and sports should not be mixed.
''I think this way but there are situations where one has to look at the larger picture. But definitely, if India had come it would have been a boost for Pakistan cricket and would have allowed the board to generate good revenues,'' he averred.
The middle-order batsman further stressed that it was important for Sri Lanka tour to Pakistan to go ahead after India's refusal to visit the country.
''I am worried... if Sri Lanka also don't come then the future of cricket would be in danger in Pakistan,'' he added.
It has been over a year now that Pakistan has not played a Test match on their home soil, and now the Pakistani cricketers are desperately depending on the Sri Lankan tour. However, the series now hangs in balance.