Hong Kong T20 Blitz 2017

Kowloon Cantons sign Yusuf Pathan for Blitz in a world first as BCCI breaks protocol to release all-rounder

The country’s board had previously refused permission for their players to represent overseas franchises and makes exception for Hong Kong T20 Blitz

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 February, 2017, 7:41pm
UPDATED : Friday, 17 February, 2017, 12:41pm

Kowloon Cantons have signed Indian player Yusuf Pathan for the DTC Hong Kong T20 Blitz in a deal that could have global implications for leagues around the world.

In securing the 34-year-old all-rounder, the Cantons have become the first franchise from outside India to sign an Indian player.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India had never previously allowed one of its contracted players to represent franchises outside of the Indian Premier League.

“This is amazing news and we are very appreciative of the BCCI in granting this NOC [Non Objection Certificate] – a world first for them to allow a current player to take part in a T20 league outside of India,” said Cricket Hong Kong chief executive Tim Cutler. “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.”

Pathan, who has played 57 one-day games and 22 T20 internationals for India, joins an already-strong Cantons line-up featuring Pakistani Shahid Afridi, England’s Tymal Mills, Calum MacLeod, of Scotland, and several Hong Kong internationals.

His impressive showing for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL in 2008 – 435 runs with four fifties at a strike-rate of 179 – earned him an ODI call-up for the tri-series in Bangladesh and the Asia Cup in Pakistan. He recorded the fastest fifty of the IPL’s first season – off 21 balls against Deccan Chargers – and his dazzling all-round show in the final was instrumental in Royals’ triumph.

Pathan had the highest strike rate in the 2006-07 Ranji Trophy and coupled with impressive performances in the one-day Deodhar Trophy and Twenty20 domestic tournament in the 2006-07 season, was rewarded with a spot in India’s squad for the inaugural World T20, in South Africa.

“I am very excited about being a part of the Kowloon Cantons family for the T20 in Hong Kong,” said Pathan. “The enthusiasm of the team is amazing and I can’t wait to meet everyone.”

Sethi said the franchise worked hard to convince the BCCI to release one of their players and Pathan’s presence will help to boost cricket in Hong Kong.

“We are delighted that a player from India is joining our team. We believe that it is our love for the game and commitment to its development in Hong Kong that has enabled us to get one of the best players of this format of the game,” she said.

“An international player and in particular an Indian one attracts world attention which is good for our local cricketers. They now have the opportunity to showcase their talent to a larger audience.”

Also taking part in the DTC Mobile Hong Kong T20 Blitz are Hung Hom JD Jaguars, Galaxy Gladiators Lantau, Hong Kong Island United and City Kaitak – all of whom have their own array of top-class players.