IPL 2012 March 28, 2012

Clarke signs with Pune Warriors

Michael Clarke, the Australia captain, has joined IPL franchise Pune Warriors. On Tuesday, Sourav Ganguly, the Warriors captain and mentor, had said Clarke was close to signing a contract which would be valid for the next two seasons. On Wednesday, the deal was confirmed by the IPL.

Ganguly, who was appointed captain for this season in the absence of Yuvraj Singh, said having Clarke on board would bolster the Warriors in all departments of the game.

"He can bat and he can bowl. He is a big player," Ganguly told ESPNcricinfo.

Clarke had, in 2009, pulled out of the IPL auction, citing Australia's busy schedule, and has never played in the competition. In fact the only domestic Twenty20 games he has played were way back in 2004, for Hampshire in England. He also retired from Twenty20 internationals in January 2011 in order to focus on ODIs and Tests. Asked why Warriors were interested in Clarke, despite his lack of T20 experience, Ganguly said Clarke had the talent and was considering a return to Twenty20 cricket.

"It is his ability," Ganguly said. "He also wants to re-start playing Twenty20 cricket."

Clarke had acknowledged that his manager was in talks with the franchise but said a decision would be arrived at in due course. Clarke landed in the Caribbean on Monday to join the Australia squad. He is still recovering from a hamstring injury suffered during the CB Series, but is expected to play in the warm-up match ahead of the three-Test series against West Indies.

Clarke will only feature in the second half of the Warriors' campaign, as the West Indies tour finishes at the end of the April.

Warriors are now left with just one more overseas slot to fill. Ganguly also confirmed that the franchise had opened talks with Tamim Iqbal, the Bangladesh opener, but it was too early to say anything definitive. "We are still chatting to Tamim," Ganguly said.

Edited by Dustin Silgardo

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo