New Delhi, Oct 9 (UNI) The mystery over Pakistan run machine Mohammad Yousuf's aligning with either of two rival Indian cricket leagues deepened with BCCI-backed Indian Premier League (IPL) announcing his signing along with 10 other current and past international cricketers today.
Yousuf signed on the dotted lines for 'rebel' Indian Cricket League (ICL) after he was omitted from Pakistan's Twenty20 World Cup squad only to back out after much persuasion by PCB chief Nasim Ashraf.
Today's announcement by IPL though confirmed speculations of Yousuf's alignment with the official league which has also got PCB's support.
Besides Yousuf, the other stars whose signings are announced for the inaugural Twenty20 championships in April next year are West Indian batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Lankan pace ace Chaminda Vaas, South Africans Herschelle Gibbs, AB de Villiers, Ashwell Prince and Albie Morkel, Scott Styris of New Zealand and former Australian opener Justin Langer.
With this, the total signings of international cricketers for the inaugural season of the IPL have reached 22.
The IPL had already announced the participation of retired Australians greats Shane Warne and Glen McGarth, former Kiwi captain Stephen Fleming and eight cricketers from the current Sri Lankan team, including their skipper Mahela Jayawardene, opener Sanath Jayasuriya and spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan.
The IPL which offers a prize purse of 3 million dollars, will feature eight franchises in the first season with each team playing seven home and away games against one another thus resulting in a 56-game regular season to determine the four finalists, who would then face off in the semi-finals.
A grand final would be played toward the end of April next year culminating in a clash of the two best club sides in India. The IPL hopes to grow the eight franchises to 16 by 2010.
Each franchise would have a playing squad of 16 players 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 per team. The designated players could well 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.
All the matches will be played under lights at BCCI-designated stadia across the country.