Franchise officials said permitting replacements would help deal with the uncertainty surrounding the availability of Pakistan players for the tournament © AFP

IPL franchises will be allowed to sign on 'unsold' players at next month's auction as replacements for contracted cricketers who won't be available for the entire season this year. The IPL's latest decision also allows franchises to sign uncapped players not part of the auction as replacements.

Franchise officials said the move could particularly help overcome the uncertainty surrounding the availability of Pakistan players for the tournament following the Mumbai terrorist attacks. Players unsold during the February 6 auction will be available at a fee "equivalent to or greater than the reserve price", the release said, though the amount spent on them would not count towards the US$2 million cap on player purchases for each franchise.

"This would be particularly useful if problems arise regarding visas for Pakistani players," a franchise official said. "It also opens up slots for more players from the auction and gives us some elbow room to operate." Franchises are not allowed more than ten foreign players in a squad, and many of them have just one or two slots left after last year's auction and the recent signing of uncapped players like David Warner (Delhi Daredevils), Ryan Harris (Deccan Chargers) and Graham Napier (Mumbai Indians).

Teams will be able to sign replacements for this year from the day after the auction up to the eve of the second edition of the tournament which starts on April 10. However, the franchises must inform the IPL about their replacement requirements before the auction. "If the replacement player is an overseas player, then he would require an NOC from his domestic board," the release said.

The IPL has also extended by a day, to January 29, its deadline for franchises to notify interest in players who they wish to be put up for the auction.