Marlon Samuels, the West Indies allrounder, has been signed up by Pune Warriors for the next two years. Samuels becomes the first player to be bought this year by Warriors, who had originally boycotted the auction on February 4, but were eventually granted an extended window for trading till February 29.
Samuels' deal has left Warriors with three more slots for overseas players after Australia allrounder Mitchell Marsh was ruled out of the IPL with a back injury (see sidebar). The Warriors have already lost Australia wicketkeeper Tim Paine to injury and bought out West Indies fast bowler Jerome Taylor's contract.
With the IPL season clashing with West Indies' home series against Australia in March-April and then the away tour of England in May, Samuels will be available to play for Warriors for the first half of the tournament. "He has agreed to play for the first ten-odd matches," a Warriors official told ESPNcricinfo. For Samuels to be available for that duration, he will have to skip the home Tests against Australia.
Samuels is currently playing for the Duronto Rajshahi franchise in the Bangladesh Premier League, and has earned a couple of Man-of-the-Match awards over the past two weeks for his big hitting and tidy offspin. He has been on the international circuit for more than a decade, and is among the few experienced batsmen in a new-look West Indies side. He is yet to make his IPL debut, but has played 42 other T20 matches in which he has made 1128 runs at a strike-rate of 121.68.
It is understood that Samuels was also being pursued by IPL heavyweights Mumbai Indians as a replacement for the former Australia allrounder Andrew Symonds, who announced his retirement from all forms of cricket last week.
Warriors had a wicketkeeper, a middle-order batsman and an allrounder as top priority on their buying list. The franchise has started knocking on the doors of rival franchises to explore any possible trading opportunities with the trading window deadline closing in a week's time.
Edited by Siddarth Ravindran