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Akmal brothers, Tamim earn gigs in Afghanistan T20 League

Pakistan internationals Babar Azam, Umar Akmal and Kamran Akmal and the Bangladesh opener Tamim Iqbal were some of the high-profile cricketers bought by the six franchises in the Afghanistan T20 League’s auction, on Sunday (May 28).

Gulbadin Naib, who was sold to Boost Defenders for USD 108,000, turned out to be the most expensive buy. Meanwhile, Sohail Tanvir and Rumman Raees were picked up by Band-e-Amir Dragons and Defenders respectively for USD 105,000 each.

Imrul Kayes, Sean Williams and Hamilton Masakadza were the other notable internationals who were sold in the auction. Salman Butt, who played in the tournament last year, wasn’t picked up by any of the franchises.

“All matches will be held in Kabul, between July 18 and July 28,” Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) CEO Shafiq Stanikzai told ESPNcricinfo. “The ICC has sanctioned this event, and is sending its own match referee to oversee the tournament. In addition, we will have one on-field umpire from the ICC panel,” he added.

“It will be broadcast locally on one channel. The production company is Indian, but we are thinking of getting it on air in India and Pakistan as well. We are currently in negotiations, we haven’t finalised the deal yet.”

In a war-torn country, cricket has tended to act as a balm to break free from those soul-shattering experiences. The Afghanistan cricket team qualified for the 2015 World Cup and reached the Super 10 (main event) of the 2016 World T20.

Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan also picked up contracts with the Indian Premier League franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad. With Afghanistan set to host its fifth edition of their domestic T20 league, the game of cricket has been pushed into the forefront of national consciousness.

“This tournament will be a mega-hit and will take Afghanistan cricket to new heights,” ACB chairman Atif Mashal said. “This tournament will prove that we are the new cricketing force in the world.”

Band-e-Amir Dragons, Mis-e-Ainak Knights, Kabul Eagles, Speenghar Tigers, Amo Sharks and Boost Defenders are the six teams who would participate in the tournament. The T20 league is scheduled to start in July this year.

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