Chirag Suri, the young UAE batsman, will play alongside the India seam-bowling great Zaheer Khan, after the last formal phase of recruitment for the T10 League took place.
Eleven of the 13 centrally contracted UAE players were drafted as the eight franchises finalised their squads for the 10-over competition, which starts in Sharjah on Wednesday, November 21.
Five other players from domestic cricket were also handed deals, while eight Indian players, including Test players Zaheer and RP Singh, plus Indian Premier League star Pravin Tambe, were also signed.
Suri, who was born in Delhi but raised in Dubai, will play for Bengal Tigers with Zaheer, who took 311 Test wickets for India, as will fellow national team batsman Mohammed Usman.
Suri does have experience of sharing a dressing room with leading stars of the game before, having been drafted to Gujarat Lions in the Indian Premier League last year.
“Zaheer Khan has been a hero for many in India, and it is going to be great to learn from him and get inside his cricket brain,” Suri said.
“The whole squad looks really well balanced and I’m just looking forward to the tournament now.
“It feels good to be part of the T10, but especially with Bengal, who have a passionate cricket supporter Anis [Sajan, the franchise owner] in charge.”
Kerala Kings, who won the first T10 League last year under the captaincy of Eoin Morgan, have bolstered their ranks by recruiting Mohammed Naveed.
Naveed, the UAE’s pace spearhead, is ranked No 14 in the ICC’s player rankings for T20 bowlers, and dismissed some of the short format’s best-known players in the recently-concluded Afghanistan Premier League.
He and Abdul Shakoor, the Sharjah-based wicket-keeper, join a Kerala squad that includes the likes of Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and Sohail Tanvir.
Naveed has suffered at the hands of Gayle twice so far this year, first for UAE at the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe in March, then at a T20 tournament in Canada in the summer.
“I’m very happy we are playing together this time, as I am normally against him,” Naveed said.
Rohan Mustafa, the national team captain currently in Nepal playing in the same T20 competition as Suri and Naveed, has switched T10 franchises.
Last year he earned a win bonus as part of the title-winning Kerala side, but he will play for Rajputs, one of the two new teams, this season.
Munaf Patel, the pace bowler who has played 86 matches for India across three formats, will be one of Mustafa’s teammates with Rajputs, as will Ashfaq Ahmed, the big-hitting UAE opener.
Tambe, who found fame late in a sportsman’s life after being recruited to the IPL age 41, will join Karachians.
Now 47, the Indian leg-spinner will be joined by the UAE duo of Ahmed Raza, the left-arm spinner, and wicket-keeper batsman Ghulam Shabber.
Rameez Shahzad and Qadeer Ahmed are the two centrally contracted UAE players to miss out on deals to play in the T10 League.
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