Chris Gayle has signed up to play five matches in the Bangladesh Premier League 2016-17 for Chittagong Vikings, and will be available for the latter half of the tournament that begins on November 4 in Dhaka. Gayle, who played for Barisal Bulls in the 2015-16 edition, is among the 31 foreign players signed up by the seven franchises before the players' draft scheduled for September 30.
Apart from Gayle, Chittagong, who finished as the bottom-ranked team in 2015-16, have signed four other foreign players - Dwayne Smith, Shoaib Malik (played for Comilla Victorians last season), Chaturanga de Silva and Mohammad Nabi (from Rangpur Riders).
Gayle had scored 139 runs in four matches for Barisal last season, while Nabi took seven wickets and scored 37 runs for Rangpur in seven matches. Smith had last played the tournament in 2013, while de Silva was the top wicket-taker in this year's Dhaka Premier League one-day tournament.
Ryan ten Doeschate, Grant Elliott, Ahmed Shehzad, Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Herschelle Gibbs, Seekugge Prasanna, Jason Holder and Lendl Simons will enter the draft and have been placed in the A category for foreign players. Their salary cap is $70,000 while foreign players in categories B, C and D can earn up to $50,000, $40,000 and $30,000 respectively.
Australian players Ben Hilfenhaus, Ben Laughlin, Tom Beaton and Evan Gulbis will also be a part of the draft. Thirty-six English players are part of the draft list, including James Vince, Liam Dawson, Jade Dernbach and Graham Onions.
Defending champions Comilla Victorians have signed on Imad Wasim, Thisara Perera and Sohail Tanvir while retaining Ashar Zaidi and Nuwan Kulasekera. Imad, the Pakistan left-arm spinner, is set to make his first appearance in the Bangladesh Premier League, while Perera and Tanvir played for Rangpur Ryders and Sylhet Super Stars last season.
Kumar Sangakkara will be joined by Mahela Jayawardene at Dhaka Dynamites. The franchise has also signed Andre Russell (from Comilla), Dwayne Bravo, Evin Lewis (from Barisal) and Ravi Bopara (from Sylhet).
Rangpur have enlisted Shahid Afridi (from Sylhet), Sharjeel Khan, Babar Azam, Mohammad Shahzad, Dasun Shanaka, 19-year-old West Indies batsman Gidron Pope and English pace bowler Richard Gleeson. This will be the first BPL appearance for the six new players in the Rangpur squad. Pope had impressed scouts in Bangladesh with his big-hitting abilities in the Under-19 World Cup earlier this year, where he scored 232 runs in six innings at a strike rate of 107.9.
While Barisal have only signed up Dilshan Munaweera so far, Rajshahi have picked Darren Sammy and Mohammad Sami. Nicholas Pooran, Riki Wessels, Kevon Cooper, Mohammad Asghar and Benny Howell have been signed by Khulna Titans.