Pakistan bowling legend Wasim Akram has mentioned that he won't be a part of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) for Indian Premier League (IPL) 2017. However, there hasn't been any update on if the 'Sultan of Swing' will make his return for the Indian cricket side, co-owned by Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan (SRK).
Akram, 50, the bowling coach of the side, cited time constraints and personal reasons behind his pull-out. Although this is not the first time that he is not involved with the KKR camp for one season of the IPL (Akram didn't take part in IPL 2013 to spend time with family), many feel the recent cross-border tensions between India and Pakistan could be the reason behind his step.
"I have loved the camaraderie in KKR team and have enjoyed every opportunity to mentor the highly talented team over the years. I am surely going to miss being part of the dressing room but I wish the team continued success," said Akram via a press note released by the IPL side on Saturday.
Akram was, until now, the only Pakistani personality in the Indian Premier League, which has barred the participation of Pakistan cricketers 2012 onwards. After the Mumbai attacks 26/11 in 2008, there was an initial ban on Pakistani cricketers to play in the IPL. In 2010, however, they were a part of the auction but none of the franchises made a bid for them.
During its inaugural IPL season in 2008, organised by Lalit Modi, there were 11 Pakistani players playing in the IPL including Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Akhtar and Sohail Tanvir, who was the leading wicket taker in the 2008 edition.
Kolkata Knight Riders CEO Venky Mysore has ruled out that there has been any pressure behind Akram's decision to not be a part of IPL 2017, according to Hindustan Times. However, there is still no word on whether Akram will be back for IPL 2018.
"We will miss Wasim Bhai who has been part of the KKR family over the last few years and has played a significant role in our title triumphs in 2012 and 2014. We wish him the very best in all his endeavours," said Mysore in the statement.