Colombo: The inaugural Lankan Premier League (LPL) have been dealt a severe blow with five overseas players, including Faf du Plessis, Andre Russell and David Miller, pulling out of the T20 tournament less than a week after they were drafted into various franchises.
While South African trio of Miller, du Plessis and Dawid Malan are unavailable because of the limited-overs series against England, West Indian Russell has pulled out due to a knee injury.
Indian wicket-keeper batsman Manvinder Bisla, who played 35 IPL matches, is the fifth player to withdraw from the tournament, scheduled to be held from November 21 to December 13.
"The franchises that had these players will have to negotiate with other players to take their place," LPL director Ravin Wickramaratne told ESPNcricinfo.
Russell, Miller, du Plessis and Malan all had been picked up as marquee players.
While these withdrawals are a significant blow to the tournament, they are not a death knell just yet.
The hardest hit franchise is the Colombo Kings, who had all three of Russell, du Plessis and Bisla on its roster. The Jaffna Stallions had Malan.
The five-team tournament is scheduled to be held at two venues -- Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Kandy and Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium in Hambantota. A total of 23 matches will be played over a period of 15 days.