Does religion and cricket go hand-in-hand? The answer should be NO. But are Indian franchisee owners looking to play it safe keeping in mind the backlash faced by Dangal girl Zaira Wasim or even for that matter Ae Dil Hai Mushkil actor Fawad Khan, who happens to be a Muslim? How can you forget that Shah Rukh Khan is Muslim and a proud franchisee owner. Earlier in the year, following the terrorist attacks at Army camp in Uri sector of Jammu and Kashmir and the Pathankot air base attack, on the intervening night of September 28, India launched a surgical strike to give a befitting reply, tit-for-tat!

Soon after the strikes, many fringe Hindu groups demanded a ban on the artistes and players from across the border to showcase their talent or earn their livelihood in India.

Earlier today, during the players’ auction for the tenth season of the Indian Premier League, two big Muslim players remained unsold. And, as soon as the auctions got over, social media site Twitter erupted with reactions that they were being overlooked because of their religion. So, are the owners of the IPL teams wary of getting Muslims on board, considering they could for no reason stir a controversy?

At the auction, the two big Muslim players we are focusing on are Pervez Rasool and the old warhorse Irfan Pathan. Rasool, who hails from Jammu and Kashmir recently made his limited overs debut for India to become the first player from the region to represent the country. There is not much to write or talk about him because he has not given any match winning performances to grab headlines and eyeballs. He is a gentle off spin bowler, who does not have a doosra. He has decent loop and drift but is that good enough for the explosive league which has a batsman who can clear the ropes with ease? So will you as a franchise owner back an off spinner with limited variations to play on your side. The answer should be a ‘no’! No compassionate grounds considered when your money is at stake. Rasool is also guilty of not singing the national anthem during the start of a match, which created a storm.

Irfan Pathan’s case is interesting! He has tons of experience at the top level, apart from being a member of the WC winning T20 Indian team in 2007. He has it all, swing, cutters, slowers, the in-dipper and a whole lot up his sleeve. He has also been a part of Delhi Daredevils, KingsXI Punjab unit. So, why was he overlooked? Age has to be the answer!

T20 is fast paced cricket, where being young works in your favour. It also helps in creating the nucleus of the team. Franchisees across the world have shown the trend of backing young blood. Well, Brad Hogg is an exception!

This could be the reason why the two Muslims at the auctions were snubbed. So is it religion over cricket? You decide by putting yourself in the team boss’ shoes.

Also, if that was the case how did the Afghanistani players bag the big bucks?