3 new international players sign on for IPL; total up to 25

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Mumbai, Oct 16 (UNI) The Indian Premier League (IPL) today announced the inclusion of the Rawalpindi Express - Shoaib Akhtar, South African all-rounder Shaun Pollock and Kiwi all-rounder Jacob Oram to the list of international cricketers participating in the League matches.

These new signings take the total of international cricketers, who have signed on to play in the inaugural season of the IPL, to 25, a release issued here today stated.

Earlier, the IPL had already announced the participation of Shane Warne, Glen McGarth, Stephen Fleming, Mahela Jayawardene, Sanath Jayasuriya, Graeme Smith, Daniel Vettori, Herschelle Gibbs, Mohammed Yousuf, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Chaminda Vaas, Justin Langer, AB de Villiers, Ashwell Prince, Albie Morkel and Scott Styris.

Maintaining its repertoire, IPL has signed on three of the finest international players in the cricketing arena to set the stage for an electrifying inaugural tournament, one which is sure to capture the imagination of the cricket loving masses in India.

Commenting on the new signings, Indian Premier League Chairman and Commissioner Lalit Modi said, ''To have the Rawalipindi Express play for an India club team, together with a cricketer as talented as Shaun Pollock will be a dream come true for the cricket loving Indian fans. It also once again reiterates our commitment to create a tournament that will showcase some of the best talent in the world. I am very excited about the inaugural season of the Indian Premier League which now looks all set to kick off in April 2008.'' The Indian Premier League, scheduled for an April 2008 launch, will feature eight franchises in the first season, with each team playing seven home and away games against one another. Thus, resulting in a fifty-six game regular season to determine the four finalists, who will then face off in the semi-finals. A grand-final will be played towards the end of April 2008 culminating in a clash of the two best club-sides in India. The IPL hopes to grow the eight franchises to sixteen by 2010, the release added.

Each franchise will have a playing squad of sixteen players comprising BCCI registered players drawn from a central contract pool of Indian players. Giving impetus to the development of cricket in India, each Indian Premier League team will also feature both under 21 players and designated players per team. The designated players can 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.

In keeping with the tradition of the Twenty 20, all of the Indian Premier League's matches will be played under lights at BCCI designated stadia across the country and USD 3 million prize money will make this cricket tournament the richest purse in domestic cricket, the release added.

UNI

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