Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
Earlier this week Yusuf said he had received a no-objection certificate from the BCCI to play for Kowloon Cantons in the second edition of the tournament. However, the BCCI has now said it had never granted Yusuf the NOC. Late on Thursday, Hong Kong Cricket said in a release: "Cricket Hong Kong and Kowloon Cantons can confirm that the NOC, which was issued for Yusuf Pathan to play in the DTC Hong Kong T20 Blitz has been revoked."*
"Fact is Yusuf wanted to participate as they invited him as a brand ambassador," a BCCI official told ESPNcricinfo. "If it was a Twenty20 league, we informed him that he cannot play. We have closed this matter and he is not going."
Yusuf did not respond to this latest development.
On February 11, Yusuf had said he had received the NOC in an email from the BCCI although he had not opened the mail. Yusuf said the Baroda Cricket Association, his state cricket body, had also given him the nod to participate in the tournament, which would be played from March 8 to 12.
Incidentally, Tim Cutler, the Cricket Hong Kong chief executive had thanked the BCCI for releasing Yusuf. "This is amazing news and we are very appreciative of the BCCI in granting this NOC [Non Objection Certificate]," Cutler had said in a media release last week. "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 Indian Express even attributed comments to MV Sridhar, BCCI's general manager (cricket operations) as to why Yusuf was granted a go-ahead to participate in the league.
"It's a tournament, not a league. There's a fine difference," Sridhar was quoted as saying by the Indian Express. "A league is an ongoing annual affair like Big Bash for example. This (Hong Kong Twenty20) is a tournament which is approved by the ICC. They (Cricket Hong Kong) told us and we have cross-checked, and it doesn't clash with any engagements of the Baroda Cricket Association. The Baroda Cricket Association is OK with it and that is only when we said, Yusuf can play this one-off tournament.
"League would mean franchises, league would mean auctions, league would mean players being requested and paid according to their capabilities - there's a lot of difference."
Sridhar was unavailable for comment. The BCCI has always been protective about its players and restricted them from playing in overseas T20 leagues fearing it would hurt the IPL brand. However, the BCCI has allowed players to feature in List A 50-over tournaments outside India. Yusuf was part of the 22-strong Indian contingent that played in last year's Dhaka Premier League.
*13.25GMT, February 16: This article was updated after Hong Kong Cricket sent out a release.