LAHORE, Nov 19: Finally, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has allowed its three players — Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal and Umar Akmal — to feature in the Australian Big Bash Twenty20 League, despite its dates clashing with the National Twenty20 Cup, country’s premier event in the shortest format.

“We have given the permission to all the three players [to participate in Big Bash] on the request of Cricket Australia (CA),” a PCB spokesman said on Monday.

In Big Bash, Umar will represent Sydney Sixers, Saeed is to play for Adelaide Strikers and Afridi has been signed by Sydney Thunder.

While the National Twenty20 Cup is being held from Dec 2 to 10 in Karachi, the Big Bash is scheduled to run from Dec 7 to 23 and will resume after Christmas from Dec 26 to Jan 19.

“In the first place, we had allowed the three cricketers to play in the Big Bash League, but then the situation changed after we decided to organise our own Twenty20 Cup [according to its earlier schedule] following India’s invitation Pakistan for a short limited-overs series starting in December,” the spokesman stated.

“As the criterion for the selection of team for the India tour is performance in the forthcoming National T20 Cup, the PCB had decided not to allow the three key players to go to Australia, telling them to appear in the national event.

“But now as CA has requested us we will release the players after the group matches of the National T20 Cup [around Dec 8],” the spokesman added.

It is to be noted that the PCB will have to give its President’s Trophy, the ongoing first-class tournament, a break to organise the T20 Cup.

AFP adds: Meanwhile, Afridi has ended his contract with Sydney Thunder despite being cleared to play in the Twenty20 league by the PCB.

Afridi insisted he would rather play in Pakistan’s domestic league as he struggles to recapture the form that made him one of cricket’s leading all-rounders in limited-overs cricket but which has deserted him in recent times.

“I have ended my contract in the Big Bash League, because I want to play in the national event [National T20 Cup] to improve my form and justify my selection in the team,” he said.

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