New Delhi : Eight cricketers from the Sri Lankan Test and One-day squads, including captain Mahela Jayawardene and star spinner Muttiah Muralidaran, have signed up to play in the inaugural season of the Indian Premier League (IPL), it was announced Monday.
The other Sri Lankan players are Kumar Sangakkara, Sanath Jayasuriya, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Zoysa, Farveez Maharoof and Dilhara Fernando, an IPL statement said.
They will join the likes of Australians Shane Warne and Glen McGrath, and New Zealand’s Stephen Fleming who have already signed up with the IPL.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had recently launched the IPL, to be played in the globally popular Twenty20 format that promises to deliver some high-octane action for the country’s cricket loving masses.
The $3 million in prize money on offer would make the tournament the richest purse in domestic cricket.
The IPL was launched soon after media baron Subhash Chandra announced the formation of the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL).
According to IPL chairman and commissioner Lalit Modi, the league is “committed to enticing an entire new generation of sports fans into the grounds by showcasing some of the best cricketing talent on offer from the world over.
“It is in line with this philosophy that we have signed eight of the current Sri Lankan squad. We are also in talks with some of the finest players in the international cricketing arena. I promise Indian fans that the IPL will truly be one of the finest cricketing leagues anywhere in the world,” Modi added.
Jayawardene said: “T20 cricket is an exciting new format for both players and fans. We are all thrilled to be joining the IPL, an innovative venture that has the potential to fuel cricket’s growth around the world during the coming years.
“We are looking forward to making our mark in the league,” he added.
Scheduled for an April 2008 launch, the IPL will feature eight franchises in the first season, with each team playing seven home and away games against one another. This will result in a 56-game season to determine the four finalists, who would then face off in the semi-finals.
A grand final – a clash of the two best club sides in India – would be played toward the end of April 2008.
Each franchise would have a playing squad of 16, comprising BCCI-registered players drawn from a central contract pool of Indian players. Each IPL team will also feature both under-21 players and designated players. These players could be contracted from the Indian national team or overseas contracted players, marking the entry of these professionals into Indian domestic cricket for the first time.
The IPL hopes to grow the eight franchises to 16 by 2010.
In keeping with the tradition of Twenty20 format, all the IPL matches will be played under lights at BCCI designated stadia across the country. All matches would be played between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.