Mumbai:South Africa's Jacques Kallis, Mark Boucher and Makhaya Ntini were among the five foreign players who on Wednesday signed for the $3 million Indian Premier League (IPL), the Indian cricket board announced.
West Indies captain Ramnaresh Sarwan and his teammate and ace opener Chris Gayle were the other two who have signed to play in April, in India, in a Twenty20 tournament, which has the backing of the International Cricket Council.
With these five, the total number of players who have signed up for the IPL has gone up to 49, said Lalit Modi, IPL chairman and commissioner and also a vice-president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
"I am happy to state that we have completed the first phase by signing some of the best international talent available," he said in a statement.
"IPL had publicly promised the Indian cricket fans of delivering high voltage Twenty20 cricket action through some of the most talented international and national cricketers," he added.
Modi said he is also encouraged by the response from potential franchisees who will be buying stakes in the IPL.
"The response from potential franchisees for owning an IPL team has also been quite overwhelming and I am certain we will have some very interesting announcements to make in the days and weeks ahead," he said.
IPL will feature eight teams in the first season, with each team playing seven home and away games against one another with 56 matches to be played in total.
After the league matches four teams would play in the semi-finals. A grand final would be played toward the end of April. The IPL hopes to grow to 16 teams by 2010.
Each team would have a squad of 16 players registered with the BCCI and drawn from its central contract pool.
Moreover, each team will also feature both under-21 players and designated players, who could be either Indians or foreigners.
All matches will be played under floodlights at BCCI-designated stadiums across the country for a total prize purse of $3 million, making it the richest cricket tournament in the world.