'IPL was a totally different thing, it was like a festival' - Umar Gul recounts his experience of playing for the KKR

‘IPL was a totally different thing, it was like a festival’ – Umar Gul recounts his experience of playing for the KKR

Gul featured in six matches and picked 12 wickets in the only season when Pakistan players played in the IPL.

Umar Gul
Umar Gul. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The Indian Premier League (IPL) commenced in 2008 when the players from all the countries participated and the event was quite a hit in its inaugural season. But the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai changed everything and Pakistan players were banned from playing in the cash-rich league. Ever since then the situation is the same with the prevailing political tensions between the two countries.

Pakistan pacer Umar Gul was one of the many Pakistan cricketers who featured in the IPL for the Kolkata Knight Riders. He played only six matches in the season but went on to pick 12 wickets at an average of 15.33. Gul recently recalled his experience of playing in the T20 league and termed it as a memorable one. He also claimed that there is a lot of fan following for Pakistan cricketers in India.

Umar Gul still remembers how he was picked by the Kolkata franchise when Pakistan were involved in a series against Bangladesh. “We enjoyed a lot. First time such a private league was happening. I remember I was the highest wicket-taker in the 2007 World Cup and I was picked almost at the end in the IPL. We were playing a home series against Bangladesh and Brendon McCullum smashed 150 in our first match. We were very excited.

“Then we went to India. There are a lot of fans of Pakistani players in India. IPL was a totally different thing, it was like a festival,” he said while speaking in a show CricCast.

Umar Gul recites experience playing for KKR

Umar Gul was overwhelmed to play for the KKR which was and is co-owned by the Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan. The The 36-year-old still remembers going for photoshoots and parties after the match. Gul was only 24 then and says that he learnt a lot from the players like Ricky Ponting in the dressing room.

“You play the match and then after the match there would be a program at the hotel. That was especially the case with KKR, with Shahrukh Khan as the owner. Whether you won the match or lost, we used to have a photoshoot after the match for their brand and sponsors. And then we used to have team parties.

“It was a great experience. I got to learn a lot because I was still young and we got to share the dressing room with players like Ricky Ponting. It was great and it brought professionalism in us. We got to know how these legendary cricketers spend their lives,” the pace bowler further added.