Pollock, Akhtar join Indian Twenty20 league

South Africa all-rounder Shaun Pollock, his New Zealand counterpart Jacob Oram and Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar have signed up for the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 series, organisers said on Tuesday.

Their inclusion takes to 25 the number of foreign players who have committed to the lucrative league due to start next April.

Shoaib, who completes a 13-match ban after the first four one-day internationals against South Africa, which start on Thursday, said he had signed up after getting clearance from the Pakistan Cricket Board.

“I will be available to play in the IPL only when I am not needed by Pakistan. That remains my top priority,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

“But my first hope is to tour India next month with Pakistan and play in the Tests and one-dayers.”

The IPL, with $3-million prize money, was launched by the Indian cricket board in September with support from other national boards to counter an unofficial version planned from next month.

The inaugural edition will feature eight teams, to be bought by franchisees, with plans to double the field by 2010.

Those already signed up include retired Australian bowling stalwarts Shane Warne and Glen McGrath, New Zealand’s Daniel Vettori and Stephen Fleming, Sri Lanka’s Mahela Jayawardene and Sanath Jayasuriya, South Africa’s Graeme Smith and Pakistan batsman Mohammad Yousuf.

Yousuf had earlier been linked to the unofficial Indian Cricket League (ICL), which is now under pressure after the official version lured many top names in the game.

Each IPL franchise would have a squad of sixteen, which would comprise local players, juniors, members of the Indian national squad and overseas professionals.—Reuters

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