Shoaib Akhtar confirms he'll play in IPL
Scotching all rumours about his joining the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL), Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar on Friday confirmed that he would be among the players who would be auctioned on Wednesday for the official Indian Premier League (IPL).
"My commitment to the DLF IPL is absolute. There is a lot of talk flying around players at the moment regarding the new Twenty20 competitions, but I have signed with the DLF IPL and I am so excited about the upcoming bid process and finding out which franchisee I will play for," Akhtar said in a statement.
"This is an exciting week for Shoaib and all other players contracted to the DLF IPL," said Akhtar's agent, David Ligertwood of Essentially Group, the international sports business.
"We have just agreed the long form player contract, which Shoaib and all other players will sign in the next 48 hours. We are now waiting to find out on the 20th which city and franchises will Shoaib service."
There has been speculation that Akhtar would be joining the Subhash Chandra-promoted ICL. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has stopped all benefits for players, coaches, umpires and other people who have associated themselves with the ICL.
Not only the Indians but those from the other countries who have anything to do with the ICL have been ostracised by their respective boards on instruction from the International Cricket Council (ICC), which is patronising the IPL.
Tearaway Akhtar, 32, has bagged 178 wickets in 46 Tests and 219 scalps in 138 One-Day Internationals (ODI).
"I have recently spoken with Mr Lalit Modi (IPL chairman and commissioner) and I am so impressed with what he has created here and I want to play a big part in this venture succeeding for everyone," Akhtar said.
The Pakistani, who is often in the news for all the wrong reasons, is eager to come and play in India where he has many fans.
"I can't wait to be allocated to a city and franchise. My contract with them will be a three-year deal initially, so I am in it for the long haul. I cannot wait to interact with the local fan base and become one of their 'own' players," he said.
"If I am able to win even a fraction of the 'love' the Indian people have for their players it will be amazing. And I will be giving everything I can to try and achieve that for the next three years and hopefully beyond."
Akhtar will also win back a central contract with the Pakistan Cricket Board.
"My absolute priority in my cricket career has always been to take wickets for Pakistan and help my country win matches. I am hopeful of entering a new contract with my board very soon."