Shahid Afridi will be the star attraction at Sharjah Stadium after Paktia franchise picked the Pakistan all-rounder. Image Credit: PTI

Dubai: The stage is set for the Afghanistan Premier League (APLT20), to be held from October 5-23, with the five franchises reaching out for outstanding international cricketers in the players’ draft on Monday night. Each team selected 17 to 20 players which include five overseas players and one player from an associate country.

The Paktia line-up has Shahid Afridi, the hero of many international matches at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium where the tournament will be held. His franchise picked top internationals stars like Sri Lanka’s Thisara Perera and South Africa’s Cameron Delport. The others are Chris Jordan, Faheem Ashraf, Luke Wright and Calum MacLeod.

Kabul, which has Afghanistan’s star and leg spinner Rashid Khan as icon, got New Zealand’s Luke Ronchi, South Africa’s Colin Ingram and Pakistan’s Sohail Tanvir. The others are Laurie Evans and Wayne Parnell.

The Twenty20 star player Chris Gayle, who is the icon of Balkh squad, picked England’s Twenty20 specialist Ravi Bopara, and Pakistan’s tall pacer Mohammad Irfan and wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal. Also in the squad will be Ben Laughlin and Colin Munro.

Nangarhar, which has West Indies star and all-rounder Andre Russell as icon, picked Bangladesh’s hard hitting opener Tamim Iqbal as well as their star batsman Mushfiqur Rahim. Pakistan’s star all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez, who couldn’t find a place in the Pakistan team for the Asia Cup, is in this squad. The others are Ben Cutting, Mitchell McClenaghan and Nepal’s Sandeep Lamichhane.

Kandahar, which has New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum as icon, picked Pakistan pacer Wahab Riaz and England’s Sam Billings. The other stars are Paul Stirling, Tymal Mills and Iftikhar Ahmad.

UAE pacer Mohammad Naveed will play for this squad.

Speaking to Gulf News, Shafiqullah Stanikzai, the Chief Executive Officer of the Afghanistan Cricket Board, said, “APL will be one of the big Twenty20 franchise leagues in the world. The league will be a platform for local and international players to showcase their talent through the 23 matches of the tournament.”

Commenting on the draft, Afridi said: “I am looking forward to playing in this league and representing Paktia. Congratulations to Afghanistan Cricket officials on launching their T20 league.”

Rashid Khan expressed his delight on playing in the league and said: “Very excited to have been picked by Kabul to play in the inaugural edition.”