T10 Cricket League: Shakib al Hasan headlines auction

With 300 international players up for grabs, the six franchises went into the auction with a clear idea — to get the best in business on board.

Wasim Akram, coach of Maratha Arabians, picked a mix of experienced players and young guns.   -  Special Arrangement

The shortest format of the game needs stars who would go on a blitzkrieg. And that’s the trend the franchises had in mind when they went for the player drafts in the inaugural edition of the T10 Cricket League (TCL) at the Lotus Yacht in Dubai on Sunday.

With 300 international players up for grabs, the six franchises went into the auction with a clear idea — to get the best in business on board. And as a result, Kerala Kings, coached by West Indies legend Brian Lara, picked up Kieron Pollard. The bowling department was also taken care of, with Pakistan seamers Wahab Riaz and Sohail Tanveer being snapped up. The Kerala side also bagged the services of Bangladesh superstar Shakib al Hasan.

If Kerala went for some of the big names, Bengal Tigers, led by Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed, acquired West Indies’ spin wizard Sunil Narine. In the fast bowling department, it roped in Bangladesh pacer Mustafizur Rahman. The side also roped in West Indies discard Darren Sammy. “We are pretty excited about the draft and the side looks well balanced,” Bengal Tigers skipper Sarfraz said.

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But then, it was not just about picking the quick legs. Maratha Arabians, which is coached by Wasim Akram and captained by Virender Sehwag, sprung in a surprise by roping in veteran Pakistan pacer Mohammed Sami. Out of favour for long, Sami’s inclusion is certainly a surprise for the side that has also got Kumar Sangakkara and Pakistan pace spearhead Mohammed Aamir.

“Sami has played a lot of matches here (in Sharjah) and we wanted someone who can have a lot of experience but can also deliver. It was a balance. It is the last time, so we wanted to try this out,” Abdul Latif Khan, spokesperson of Maratha Arabians, told Sportstar on Sunday. He also added that Sami’s experience will help him pair up better with someone like Aamir. “It is a balance of experience and youth,” Khan said. Perhaps, that’s the reason it got Lendl Simmons, Alex Hales and Imad Wasim in its ranks.

Another franchise — Punjabi Legends — which is led by Shoaib Malik, made some smart purchases with the acquisition of Umar Akmal, Chris Jordan, Hassan Ali, big-hitting Carlos Brathwaite, Luke Ronchi and Adil Rashid.

The biggest surprise of the draft was perhaps the inclusion of Mohammad Irfan. The Pakistan pacer, who was suspended by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for failing to report a fixing approach, was snapped by the Pakhtoon. While he has been cleared by the Pakistan board, the franchise felt his inclusion will boost the team. The Pakhtoon also roped in Fakhr Zaman, Tamim Iqbal, Dwayne Smith, Ahmad Shahzad and Junaid Khan.

“This is an historic moment for cricket. We are looking forward to an exciting league,” TCL founder Shaji-ul Mulk told Sportstar.