SL launches T20 league
Colombo - Sri Lanka's cricket board on Thursday announced its own Twenty20 tournament, seeking to emulate the success of the hugely popular Indian Premier League.
The first edition of the Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) will be played over 18 days from July 19 and will feature teams from the island's seven provinces and big international stars, according to a statement.
"Twenty20's massive popularity and status as the most exciting and entertaining format of cricket will be further enhanced by this newest tournament to the world of cricket," read a Sri Lanka Cricket statement.
While SLC kept mum on the international stars likely to take part, local media named the likes of Shahid Afridi, Chris Gayle, Daniel Vettori, Kieron Pollard, Daniel Christian, Herschelle Gibbs and Kevin O'Brien.
The teams will play each other once, with the top four qualifying for the semi-finals. The winner of the tournament will qualify for the Champions League Twenty20, which is jointly promoted by the boards of India and South Africa.
All the SLPL games will be day-night encounters and played at Colombo's R. Premadasa Stadium. Each squad can have a maximum of five international players but the starting XI can have only four of them.
However, in contrast to IPL's high-profile auctions for players, international stars will be assigned to teams by the Sri Lankan national selection committee.
The seven teams are Basnahira Bears, Kandurata Kites, Nagenahira Nagas, Ruhuna Rhinos, Uthura Oryxes, Uva Unicorns and Wayamba Wolves.
The league will be run by the Singapore-based Somerset Entertainment, who have bought the rights for five years. The global television rights for the 24 matches have already been sold.
The SLPL could come as a particular blessing for Pakistan players. They have been ignored by the money-spinning IPL since the inaugural edition in 2008.