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BCCI withdrew Irfan Pathan's NOC for Bahrain Cricket Festival

Misbah-ul-Haq and Shahid Afridi took part in the T20 exhibition match.

News 20 May 2017, 19:30 IST
Irfan Pathan
Irfan Pathan was supposed to lead the Falcons in an exhibition T20 game

What’s the story?

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) withdrew all-rounder Irfan Pathan‘s No Objection Certificate (NOC) for the T20 exhibition game in the 2017 Bahrain Cricket Festival. The 32-year-old had travelled to the country to take part in the match and even attended a press conference.

However, his NOC was revoked on the day of the match by BCCI for unspecified reasons. Interestingly, he was supposed to lead a team named after him (Irfan Falcons) against the Misbah-ul-Haq led Eagles. 

In case you didn’t know...

This is not the first time that the BCCI have denied permission to Indian cricketers who seek to participate in overseas T20 tournaments/matches. During February, Irfan's half-brother Yusuf found out that his NOC to take part in the Hong Kong T20 Blitz was revoked at the eleventh hour.

The heart of the matter

BCCI have been quite firm in their stance towards Indian players pursuing access to play in overseas tournaments in the shortest format of the game. Even though they usually allow those without central contracts to participate in 50-overs competitions (Dhaka Premier League for example), their policy regarding T20s is rather rigid. The underlying reason behind their reluctance to grant NOCs could stem from their eagerness to protect the brand value of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

In Irfan’s absence, Caribbean batsman Marlon Samuels led the Falcons. Misbah Eagles batted first and their skipper imposed himself on the arena with a 38-ball 121. The recently retired 42-year-old hammered the bowlers to all parts of the Bahrain National Stadium. He was well supported by former teammate Shahid Afridi who smashed a 49-ball 79. The team scored 244 for the loss of just five wickets.

Despite Samuels’ 33-ball 72, the Falcons fell short of the target by 69 runs. The exhibition game was organised to cater to the Pakistani and Indian expatriates living in the region. According to various reports, pop band Stereo Nation and Pakistani actress Neelam Muneer performed in the festival.

What’s next?

Irfan‘s next assignment will be the 2017/18 domestic season which will begin in a few months. He will be looking to continue his long-time association with Baroda. 

Author’s Take

Whichever way one tends to look at it, cricket is a means of livelihood for the players. BCCI should have relaxed their rigid policy and granted the NOC to Irfan as this was just an exhibition match and not a full-fledged tournament.

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