Unfazed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India's ambitious and cash-rich Twenty20 tournaments, the rebel Indian Cricket League on Friday announced the signing of 18 more players, including six overseas cricketers.
After lying low for several weeks, the ICL came out with its second list of players, which included four from New Zealand -- Chris Cairns, Chris Harris, Nathan Astle, Hamish Marshal, England's Darren Maddy and Pakistan all-rounder Azhar Mahmood.
Kapil Dev, chairman of the ICL's Executive Board, said, "We are extremely pleased to welcome these players to the ICL family.
"These talented, experienced cricketers will definitely be a great source of learning for the youngsters who will play with them. Under their guidance, the Indian Cricket League players will develop skills comparable to the best of international cricketing talent."
The ICL, a brainchild of the Subhash Chandra-owned Essel Group, had earlier signed over 60 cricketers, including batting greats Brian Lara and former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul Haq.
"These signings are in line with our objective of providing the best platform for young cricketers from all corners of India to play alongside the superstars of international cricket, learn the tricks of the trade from them and gain confidence to excel."
Among the six overseas players, Chris Cairns, Chris Harris and Nathan Astle are retired from international cricket while Darren Maddy and Azhar Mahmood have been in and out of their respective national teams.
Tamil Nadu's S Sriram and Mumbai spinner Nilesh Kulkarni, both of whom have played for India in the past, are the two well-known names among the 12 domestic players.
Pacemen Rakesh Patel of Baroda and Abid Nabi Ahanger of Jammu and Kashmir are also among the prominent cricketers joining the breakaway league.
The ICL suffered a setback when Pakistan's prolific batsman Mohammad Yousuf broke ranks to sign a central contract with his cricket board.
Yousuf had said he was not aware of any clause that said he had to give top priority to ICL even if Pakistan was playing international cricket.
But Ashish Kaul, executive vice-president of Essel Group, said there is no reason to believe that Yousuf has turned his back on the ICL and insisted he would turn up for the league, scheduled in November.
The ICL offers prize-money of US $one million, which is in sharp contrast to the US $3 million purse for the BCCI's Indian Premier League and US $% million for the Champions League.
The players who signed on Friday:
International: Chris Cairns, Chris Harris, Nathan Astle, Hamish Marshal, Darren Maddy, Azhar Mahmood.
Domestic: Abu Nechim, Amit Uniyal, Aniruddh Singh, Gaurav Gupta, Love Ablish, Mihir Diwakar, Rakesh Patel, Abid Nabi Ahanger, Kiran Powar, S Sriram, Pritam Das, Nilesh Kulkarni.