Bengal Tigers think-tank made up of team mentor Anis Sajan and co-owner Neelesh Bhatnagar celebrate their selection of players during the Mini Draft of the T10 League at Habtoor City. Image Credit: Picture: K.R. Nayar/Gulf News

Dubai: Bengal Tigers will strengthen their team with youngsters in the second edition of the Heera Group T10 League. Following the mini-draft of the league held at the Habtoor City on Monday night, this squad picked some of the best destructive T20 players in the world.

Bengal picked England’s in-form hard-hitting opener Jason Roy, who has piled up 4,534 runs from his 176 T20 matches and was in brilliant form against India in the recent T20 and one-day series. Their second pick was England wicketkeeper-batsman Sam Billings followed by Pakistan’s rising star Asif Ali, who had played for Danube, the owners of Bengal Tigers, in UAE’s domestic cricket.

Bengal will be revamping their team with their skipper Sarfraz Ahmad being unavailable due to his commitments to Pakistan national team during the T10 league, which is scheduled to be held in November.

Speaking to Gulf News after the draft, Anis Sajan, the mentor of the Tigers, said: “Our plan is to create a young team after our experience in the first edition. We have learnt from our mistakes last year. We picked Roy, because he is a dashing opener who will complement our opener Sunil Narine. They will go for the runs right away. We opted for Billings because we needed a wicketkeeper-batsman as Sarfraz will be on national duties. We will decide on a new captain soon.”

Sajan, who had groomed Danube team, also picked Asif Ali, whom he had given exposure as a youngster in UAE’s domestic cricket. “Ali played for Danube for three years and today he has a strike rate of 180 in One Day Internationals and 140 in T20 matches. It shows how destructive he can be as a batsman. We have also retained Afghanistan young mystery spinner Mujeeb Zadran,” said Sajan, who was backed by team owner Neelesh Bhatnagar and his think tank that included Girish Dongre, Manish Kishore and Maroof Fajandar in the selection of players.

Launching the mini-draft, Shaji Ul Mulk, the chairman of the T10 league, said: “We had an amazing first season of the T10 last year. We created such an impact that T10 is now being talked about of being considered as the right format for Olympics.”

Kerala Kings, who were the champions of the T10 league’s first edition, released Pakistan pacer Wahab Riaz. They picked Sri Lanka’s Dasun Shanaka, an explosive middle order batsman who hits huge sixes and a right-arm pace bowler. Shafi Ul Mulk, the owner of the Kerala, said that the full team will be formalised in the presence of their skipper Eoin Morgan during the main draft expected to be held on September 2.

The mini draft began with the new team Northern Warriors picking West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell while another new team Karachians picked West Indies young all-rounder Jofra Archer. Rajputs picked Indian Premier League’s consistent player and Australian Chris Lynn while Pakhtoons chose Colin Ingram.

In the second round Pakhtoons picked pacer David Willey. Maratha Arabians selected all-rounder James Faulkner. Other selections include Evin Lewis, Liam Plunkett (Punjabi Legends), Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Shehzad, Rilee Rossouw, Nicholas Pooran (Rajputs), Mohammad Irfan (Pakhtoons), Wahab Riaz, Dwayne Smith (Northern Warriors) Anton Devcich, Ben Laughlin (Karachians).