Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afrifdi on Monday missed his flight to Sri Lanka and will be unavailable for at least the first two matches of his franchise Galle Gladiators in the inaugural Lanka Premier League (LPL). The former Pakistan captain tweeted about the same, adding to the agony of the tournament organisers after a spate of heavyweight pullouts.
"Missed my flight to Colombo today morning. Nothing to worry, I'll be reaching soon to take part in the LPL for Galle Gladiators. Look forward to joining my teammates," Afridi wrote on his twitter handle. Galle Gladiators will play their first match on November 27 against Jaffna Stallions, a day after the inaugural season opener between Kandy Tuskers and Colombo Kings.
The Gladiators play their second and third matches on November 28 and 30 respectively. Afridi was named the captain of Galle Gladiators after Sri Lanka pacer Lasith Malinga and Pakistan wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfaraz Ahmed made themselves unavailable due to lack of preparation and national commitments respectively.
In the absence of Afridi, vice-captain Bhanuka Rajapaksa could lead the Gladiators in the first few matches. The 40-year-old Afridi is heading to the LPL after having played two matches for Multan Sultans in the Pakistan Super League play-offs earlier this month, where he picked up three wickets in two matches.
Once Afridi arrives in Sri Lanka, he will have to undergo a three-day isolated quarantine before entering the tournament's bio-secure bubble. LPL's inaugural season will begin this week despite star players such as Chris Gayle, Malinga and Liam Plunkett pulling out of the tournament. In the tournament, five franchisees named after Colombo, Kandy, Galle, Dambulla and Jaffna will compete across 23 matches.