Yusuf Pathan, the India allrounder, has become the first Indian male cricketer to sign a deal with an overseas franchise-based T20 league. On Saturday, he was unveiled by Kowloon Cantons for the second edition of the Hong Kong Twenty20 League, which is scheduled to run from March 8 to 12.
Yusuf is the third big signing for Kowloon Cantons, who have already picked up Pakistan's Shahid Afridi and England's Tymal Mills, apart from Scotland's Calum MacLeod. Other marquee signings for the league include Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan, West Indies' Darren Sammy, New Zealand's James Franklin and the former South Africa offspinner Johan Botha.
Michael Clarke, the former Australia captain, had represented Cantons as a marquee player last year.
Tim Cutler, chief executive of Cricket Hong Hong, thanked the BCCI for clearing Yusuf's participation in the tournament and said his presence will be a big boost for the game in the country.
"This is amazing news and we are very appreciative of the BCCI in granting this NOC [Non Objection Certificate]," he said. "This will go a long way to help the development of the sport in the region and with even more stars still to be announced this is shaping up to be a superb tournament that will be enjoyed by millions across the world.
"The tireless work of the Cantons should also be acknowledged. Without the tenacity of [Cantons CEO] Urvashi Sethi-Sodhi this simply would not have happened and it is great to see the Cantons again lifting the event to greater heights with their hard work."
Yusuf confirmed that he received an NOC from both the BCCI as well as the Baroda Cricket Association.
Yusuf, who has represented Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League, has scored 2761 runs over the nine IPL seasons, and is among the top-15 run-getters. Yusuf is the current record holder for the fastest IPL fifty - he scored a 15-ball half-century against Sunrisers Hyderabad in the 2014 edition. In 2010, he also scored a 37-ball century against Mumbai Indians, the then fastest IPL century.
The five-team event also includes Galaxy Gladiators Lantau, City Kaitak, Hong Kong Island United and Hung Hom Jaguars. The first four days will see playoff matches between each of the teams, following which the top two will progress to the final on March 12.