Former India allrounder Irfan Pathan is among 70 foreign players to have shown interest in playing the Lanka Premier League (LPL), proposed to start in the third week of August. The BCCI is believed to have cleared Pathan's request to be allowed to play. The Indian board doesn't allow active players to participate in other Twenty20 leagues but Pathan, who last played official cricket in February 2019, announced his retirement in January this year.
Pathan will now be put in a player draft unless one of the five franchises choose him to be a marquee player. The details of the draft, and the franchise owners, are yet to be finalised and announced. SLC is also waiting on some government clearances even as it decides on franchise owners. The five franchises will represent Colombo, Kandy, Galle, Dambulla and Jaffna.
Pathan's entry into the draft came about as a result of banter between him and Faveez Maharoof, former Sri Lanka allrounder and his friend. Pathan had posted a video of himself training on social media to which Maharoof responded with a masters tournament jibe. Maharoof then proceeded to offer to have Pathan added to the draft, which Pathan accepted.
If everything goes to plan, the SLC is hopeful the tournament will be played in front of small crowds. It is hoped that the Colombo airport will be opened up to traffic in the coming couple of weeks. Sri Lanka has reported under 3000 Covid-19 positive cases. The lockdown was lifted in June, but the airport has been receiving only repatriation flights.