Indian domestic season 2008-09 August 5, 2008

Maharashtra sign up two overseas players

Cricinfo staff

Enamul Haque jr has played 12 Tests and three ODIs for Bangladesh © Getty Images

Bangladesh left-arm spinner Enamul Haque Jr and Sri Lankan medium-pacer Sujeewa de Silva will join the Maharashtra squad for the 2008-09 season. Haque and de Silva will replace Sairaj Bahutule and Munaf Patel who have not renewed their contracts. The selectors were keen on choosing international professionals since other states could be interested in domestic players, Maharashtra Cricket Association president Ajay Shirke, has said.

"Since the board allows only three professionals in a squad of 25, we decided to go for two players that other states will not be thinking of," Shirke told Cricinfo. Maharashtra also recently hired Shaun Williams as coach and are looking to improve their position in the Elite group. Williams was Bangladesh's assistant coach and he could have had a role in Haque's selection.

Haque has played three one-day internationals and 12 Tests for Bangladesh and took 6 for 45 in his country's maiden Test victory against Zimbabwe in 2005. He has been a consistent performer in Bangladesh's domestic competitions which has impressed Shirke. "He has 15 five-wicket hauls in Bangladesh domestic cricket and it speaks highly of him," Shirke said. "Even Sujeewa has had the experience of playing at the highest level, so we are happy with the duo's selection."

The primary reason, according to Shirke, for picking Haque and de Silva was Maharashtra inexperienced bowling attack, especially after Patel's departure. "Our bowling department needs to be strengthened while the new bowlers are still young. So we thought of going for experienced bowlers who can help us achieve better results", Shirke said.

Meanwhile Hrishikesh Kanitkar, Maharashtra's former captain and senior most player, has asked for a no objection certificate from the state. "He has asked for an NoC as he wants to play elsewhere", Shirke said.