Clash between Sri Lanka Tests and GT20 Canada set to affect Pakistan players availability

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There might be a potential clash brewing between international commitments and T20 franchise agreements for some Pakistan players following the Global T20 Canada’s draft announcement on Wednesday. The GT20’s third edition will be played from July 20 to August 6, and though the precise dates of Pakistan’s two-Test series against Sri Lanka are yet to be announced, there is expected to be a significant overlap as the FTP has the second half of July marked for the Test series.

There is a sizeable chunk of Pakistan players in the GT20 draft; as many as 14 players have been named. While most of those drafted have either retired (Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Malik were picked as marquee and icon players) or aren’t part of Pakistan’s current red-ball plans, the drafted squads do include Pakistan vice-captain Mohammad Rizwan as well as first-choice opener Abdullah Shafique.

Even for players who aren’t selected for that Test series, a No-Objection Certificate from the PCB will be necessary to participate in the GT20. Ten of the players drafted, including Zaman Khan, Azam Khan and Saim Ayub, have played white-ball cricket recently for Pakistan. While the PCB does not have an official cap on the number of leagues a player can play, a PCB official told ESPNcricinfo that the decision on NOCs would still be made keeping in mind a player’s fitness and need for rest.

The PCB has made clear that any player picked for the Test series against Sri Lanka will not go to the GT20, though it is understood the board will be broadly permissive from now on. This would be something of a departure from the PCB policy over the years when it would preemptively deny NOCs for leagues before drafts or auctions. Going forward, there is likely to be less rigidity when dealing with players who have overseas franchise T20 commitments, with the board looking to strike a healthier balance between player welfare and national duty.

Rizwan, an icon player with Vancouver Knights, was dropped in favour of Sarfaraz Ahmed for Pakistan’s most recent Tests against New Zealand, and with Sarfaraz having distinguished himself with the bat in that series, he is likely to retain his place. Whether that means Rizwan will drop out of the squad entirely remains to be seen, but the PCB believes common ground will be found.

The GT20 returns after a four-year hiatus. The first two seasons took place in 2018 and 2019, but following payment disputes and the Covid pandemic that followed, a third edition wasn’t held in the next three years. Toronto Nationals boast four Pakistan players, the heaviest contingent. Mississauga Panthers and Brampton Wolves have three each, while Surrey Jaguars have two. Vancouver Knights and Montreal Tigers each have one, Rizwan and Abbas Afridi, respectively.

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