Legends League Cricket players’ draft: Lee, Muralitharan, Watson, Kallis top picks

The players’ draft included 79 cricketers, and each team had a purse of Rs 8 crore.

Mumbai: Adani Sportsline owned Gujarat Giants, GMR Sports India Capitals, Manipal Group's Manipal Tigers and Bhilwara Group's Bhilwara Kings came together with a combined purse of Rs 32 crore to pick 59 stars from the virtual Legends League Cricket (LLC) players' draft.

The players’ draft included 79 cricketers, and each team had a purse of Rs 8 crore. Each team will now submit their final squad. They can buy more players with the available purse.

"Among the teams, Manipal Tigers splurged the most amount of Rs 6.91 crore and have a remaining purse of 1.08 crore. The Tigers were followed closely by the India Capitals, as they spent Rs 6.38 crore, and the Gujarat Giants, who splurged Rs 5.51 crore on their stars. The Bhilwara Kings were the most economical, as they spent Rs 5.62 crore. All of them have made judicious spending. The player mix seems great and it will be very interesting to see what each of them does now on the field. I wish everyone the best of luck," said Legends League Cricket CEO and co-founder Raman Raheja.

The teams had already selected their captains and were given a chance to choose one more player on their own accord.

Manipal Tigers named former Australian pace bowler Brett Lee in their squad, while Gujarat went for their homegrown hero and former India wicket-keeper Parthiv Patel. India Capitals named Ravi Bopara even as Bhilwara Kings picked Yusuf Pathan, who will now get a chance to team up with his brother Irfan in the tournament.

The Gujarat Giants also tried hard to strike a good balance in their team. Besides Patel, they have picked Sri Lanka’s mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis and former New Zealand captain and left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori. West Indies batter Lendl Simmons is likely to open with captain Virender Sehwag at the top, while Mitchell McClenaghan will spearhead the pace bowling department.

"It has been an enthralling draft today with Gujarat Giants securing the envisaged team-mix for the upcoming season of Legends League Cricket On the one hand, former Indian opener Virender Sehwag will be captaining the team, and on the other, top-order batsman and wicket-keeper Parthiv Patel from Gujarat will be energising the game like never before. We look forward to contributing to one of the best experiences for cricket fans by bringing their favourite legends back to competitive cricket," said Adani Sportsline head Satyam Trivedi.

Another Australian speedster, Mitchell Johnson, will star in the tournament after being picked by the India Capitals. The left-arm fast bowler will be supported by former England pacer Liam Plunkett. The team will also see former South Africa captain and allrounder Jacques Kallis don their jerseys, while Ross Taylor will discharge batting duties alongside captain Gautam Gambhir.

"Really happy with the squad that India Capitals have put on the table. Congratulations to Ruchir (GM) and the team for a fabulous job," said Indian Capitals captain Gautam Gambhir.

Besides Lee, Manipal also picked up the spinning wizard Muttiah Muralidharan. The former Sri Lankan off-spinner would get a chance to play with another off-spin legend Harbhajan Singh, who is also the team’s captain. The Tigers’ other top buys were former South Africa all-rounder Lance Klusener and former Sri Lanka wicket-keeper Romesh Kaluwitherana, who played a crucial role in helping his country win the 1996 World Cup.

The entire process of player drafting was done in a virtual mode. A real-time dashboard checked on players chosen, money spent, balance, etc. There was also a free hit feature. "Overall, it was an enjoyable experience despite being virtual. We are excited to be a part of this tournament and look forward to some great cricket," said Manipal Tigers’ owner and Manipal Education & Medical Group (MEMG) vice chairman & managing director S.Vaitheeswaran.

For Bhilwara, former Australia all-rounder and winner of the 2015 ODI World Cup Shane Watson was the star pick. Besides him, the team also picked Sreesanth and Monty Panesar, among others.

"I am really happy with the team, especially the fast bowling unit. We have the best fast bowling unit in the world. We have a couple of good finishers, and we have a good left-arm spinner in Monty Panesar and a few all-rounders. I am really looking forward to this team. I am really confident that we can do well if we can have the availability of all our players and they are all fit," said Bhilwara Kings skipper Irfan Pathan.

The Legends League Cricket will be a four-team tournament and a 16-match affair. The league will start on 16 September at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata and will be hosted in five different cities, including Lucknow, New Delhi, Cuttack and Jodhpur.

Teams at a glance: 

Gujarat Giants: Virender Sehwag (Captain), Parthiv Patel, Elton Chigumbura, Chris Tremlett, Richard Levi, Graeme Swann, Joginder Sharma, Ashoke Dinda, Daniel Vettori, Kevin O'Brien, Stuart Binny, Mitchell McClenaghan, Lendl Simmons, Manvinder Bisla and Ajantha Mendis.

India Capitals: Gautam Gambhir (Captain), Ravi Bopara, Farveez Maharoof, Mitchell Johnson, Jacques Kallis, Pankaj Singh, Ross Taylor, Prosper Utseya, John Mooney, Mashrafe Mortaza, Hamilton Masakadza, Rajat Bhatia, Liam Plunkett, Asghar Afghan, Denesh Ramdin, and Pravin Tambe.

Manipal Tigers: Harbhajan Singh (Captain), Brett Lee, Andrew Flintoff, Vrv Singh Parvinder Awana, Reetinder Sodhi, Romesh Kaluwitharana, Dimitri Mascarenhas, Lance Klusener, Ryan Sidebottom, Mohammad Kaif, Phil Mustard and Muttiah Muralitharan.

Bhilwara Kings: Irfan Pathan (Captain), Yusuf Pathan, Sudeep Tyagi, Tino Best, Owais Shah, Tim Bresnan, Shane Watson, Sreesanth, Nick Compton, Matt Prior, Samit Patel, Fidel Edwards, William Porterfield, Naman Ojha and Monty Panesar.

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