Pune: Pune Warriors have made their first signing of the season after returning to the Indian Premier League fold, signing West Indies allrounder Marlon Samuels.
Pune had boycotted the auction for the fifth season after owners Sahara Group, the Indian cricket team's long-time sponsor, ended its financial ties with the BCCI and also pulled out of the IPL just hours before the players' auction earlier this month. The content_cnious issues were finally resolved after several meetings between both parties.
Among the demands accepted by the Indian cricket board, the BCCI extended the players' trading window - which was due to close on February 17 - until February 29 to give Pune an opportunity to have successful negotiations with other franchises in order to strengthen their squad. The IPL side was also asked to get the consent of all the other franchises for fielding five foreign players in the fifth edition of the tournament, after losing star player and captain Yuvraj Singh. Yuvraj is undergoing treatment in the US for lung cancer.
Samuels has now been recruited as a possible replacement for the Indian allrounder, with the Jamaican signing a two-year contract with Pune. However, the 31-year-old will not be available for the entire tournament since West Indies' home series against Australia begins in March and is followed by a tour of England in May.
Samuels has not played for any IPL team in the past four seasons, nor was he picked up at the auction for IPL 5 held on February 4. However, he has played 11 T20Is for West Indies, scoring 259 runs at an average of 25.90 while also picking up four wickets. He is also currently playing for Duronto Rajshahi in the Bangladesh Premier League, and has contributed with some quick runs as well as with his useful offspin.
At the moment, Pune have two more spots left for foreign players on their roster, and the franchise has a wicket-keeper, a middle-order batsman and an all-rounder as top priority on their buying list. They have been linked with South African Richard Levi, who was recently in the news for making the fastest T20I hundred in a match against New Zealand.
The Warriors have already lost Australian all-rounder Mitchell Marsh through a back injury, while Tim Paine has also been sidelined with injury.
The franchise has also roped in Railways right-arm pacer Krishnakant Upadhyay.