Graeme Smith, Yousuf among 11 to join IPL


New Delhi : Captains Graeme Smith of South Africa and Daniel Vettori of New Zealand besides Pakistan’s Mohammed Yousuf and West Indies’ Shivnarine Chanderpaul are among the 11 players who have joined the $3 million Indian Premier League (IPL), the Indian cricket board announced Tuesday.

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Sri Lankan fast bowler Chaminda Vaas, Australian opener Justin Langer, South Africa’s Herschelle Gibbs, A.B. de Villiers, Ashwell Prince and Albie Morkel, and New Zealand’s Scott Styris are the others who have joined IPL that will be played in April. Lalit Modi, a vice-president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and an IPL chairman and commissioner, disclosed this here Tuesday.

The signing of these 11 for the inaugural IPL tournament takes the total number international players to 22, as retired Australians Shane Warne and Glenn McGarth, former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming, and eight Sri Lankans, including captain Mahela Jayawardene and ex-skipper Sanath Jayasuriya, have joined the IPL earlier.

“We had made a promise to the cricket-loving masses of India for some truly international class high-octane action through the Twenty20 format in the IPL,” said Modi in a statement.

“It is in line with this promise and philosophy that we have signed some of the best cricketing talent on display internationally, including five players that have captained their respective countries. We are in talks with some very promising talent and should shortly be making some further announcements.”

IPL will feature eight franchises in the first season, with each team playing seven home and away games against one another, taking the total number of matches to 56.

These would be followed by the semi-finals between the top four teams and the April-end final.

The matches will be played after the usual office hours, between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., which is expected to bring in lots of crowds.

Interest is bound to grow in IPL as India unexpectedly won the Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa last month, sparking delirious celebration throughout the country.

Smith acknowledged the popularity of the Twenty20 format while confirming his participation in IPL.

“The outpouring of emotions when India lifted the Twenty20 World Championships is the stuff legends are made of and as a cricketer I have always loved the passion and enthusiasm of the cricket loving public of India,” he said.

“Twenty20 cricket is an exciting new format, which should further spread the appeal of the game and the success of the World Championship proves that it is here to stay.”

Besides Modi, the IPL governing council comprises former BCCI president I.S. Bindra, BCCI vice-presidents Chirayu Amin and Rajeev Shukla, Delhi and Districts Cricket Association president Arun Jaitley and former India captains Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri.

All BCCI office-bearers will be the ex-officio members of the IPL.

The governing council, which has been initially appointed for a term of five years, will run and operate the IPL as a virtual company.

The IPL hopes to grow the eight franchises to 16 by 2010.