Non-contracted Pakistan players hoping to be in the next IPL auction will have to contact the league directly to be put into the pool for the next edition of the league. Four Pakistan players already have contracts with franchises but they stand suspended for now, after failing to obtain the relevant paperwork and clearances in time. They can only play if their franchises choose to cut another foreign player from the squad, but for any other player hoping to line up a spot, the process appears more straightforward.

"Suspended players need only go to their franchises," Lalit Modi, the IPL commissioner, told Cricinfo. "All others just write to me and I will then put their names into the auction."

The auction is due to take place on January 19 next year, but all requests and paperwork will have to be handed in by December 31. Theoretically, a number of Pakistan players would make for attractive acquisitions after their stirring run to win the World Twenty20 in June this year.

Besides the four on suspended contracts - Kamran Akmal, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Gul and Misbah-ul-Haq - seven others played in the IPL during the first season; Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Asif, Salman Butt, Shoaib Akhtar and Younis Khan. New players who have impressed since, such as Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Aamer and Umar Akmal, might also be in the running.

But in practical terms it may not be so easy, even if the IPL says it is "excited" by the prospects of Pakistani participation next season. Franchises may well be put off by the uncertainty of acquiring a Pakistan player during a period where relations between India and Pakistan are particularly turbulent. And in any case, the cream of the squad is currently on a tour of New Zealand and Australia, making the process of applications that much more difficult.

After Pakistan players were not allowed to participate in the second IPL earlier this year by their own government, the door to their return was left a little ajar yesterday. That too was only after all parties negotiated their way through a serious bureaucratic tangle, which culminated in the Indian ministry of external affairs clearing visas for the four suspended players. "We are excited that they can participate," Modi said. "They need to write individually and not through agents by end of the month. The sooner the better."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo