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News

Azam Khan becomes first Pakistan player to sign up with UAE's ILT20

Wicketkeeper gets a gig with Desert Vipers, the franchise owned by Lancer Capital

Azam Khan top scored for Royals with 50 off 30 balls, Barbados Royals vs Jamaica Tallawahs, CPL 2021, Basseterre, August 31, 2021

Azam Khan has also had a stint with Barbados Royals in the CPL  •  Getty Images

Azam Khan has become the first Pakistan player to sign up with the UAE's International League T20. The 24-year-old wicketkeeper-batter is among the overseas players recruited by Desert Vipers, the franchise owned by Lancer Capital.
Azam will be joined by Sri Lanka legspinner Wanindu Hasaranga, England wicketkeeper-batter Sam Billings and West Indies left-arm quick Sheldon Cottrell.
Azam has played 74 T20s so far, scoring 1449 runs at a strike rate of just under 145. However, ESPNcricinfo has learned that his inclusion in the Vipers squad is subject to him getting a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the PCB. The PCB had recently turned down NOCs for a batch of Pakistan players for the BBL draft and it had also refused two requests for NOCs for the ILT20. The eighth edition of the PSL is tentatively scheduled to start just days after the ILT20 ends in February 2023.
ESPNcricinfo, however, understands that Azam was given an NOC to play in the upcoming CPL after he filed an appeal when his first request was turned down.
Desert Vipers also brought in former Australia allrounder Tom Moody and former England wicketkeeper-batter James Foster as the director of cricket and head coach respectively.
Billings is currently leading Oval Invincibles in the Hundred while Cottrell is set to return to action from injury for St Kitts & Nevis Patriots in the upcoming CPL. Alex Hales, who recently passed 10000 T20 runs, Tom Curran and Ben Duckett will join their English compatriot Billings at Vipers. Namibia left-arm seamer Ruben Trumpelmann and Nepal legspinner Sandeep Lamichhane were the Vipers' Associate picks.
Moody has had several high-profile positions in T20 cricket, including stints as director of cricket and head coach of Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL and as CPL's director of cricket. At the IPL, Moody had also coached the Punjab franchise from 2008 to 2010 before linking up with Sunrisers in 2013. In international cricket, Moody had coached Sri Lanka between 2005 and 2007 - years in which the side had considerable success in Test cricket and became World Cup runners-up.
"I'm honoured to lead the cricket operations of Desert Vipers in what promises to be an entertaining and high-quality tournament," Moody said. "We have assembled an excellent mix of youth and experience in a highly skilled squad and I warmly welcome our players from all over the world in what is truly an international event."
Foster, meanwhile, is among the most promising coaches in England and is currently in charge of the Northern Superchargers men's side in the Hundred. Since ending his playing career in 2018, Foster has had a number of stints in franchise cricket, including at the IPL, PSL, CPL, BBL and BPL. Foster has also worked as a consultant with England and Netherlands in international cricket.
Acquiring the Vipers franchise is Lancer Capital's first foray into cricket. They are also the owners of Manchester United football club and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl.
The ILT20 is set to launch in January next year. The inaugural edition of the six-team competition, however, is set to coincide with South Africa's T20 league, the BBL in Australia, and the BPL in Bangladesh.
Desert Vipers squad so far: Wanindu Hasaranga (Sri Lanka), Sam Billings (England), Alex Hales (England), Colin Munro (New Zealand), Tom Curran (England), Sandeep Lamichhane (Nepal), Ruben Trumpelmann (Namibia), Saqib Mahmood (England), Sherfane Rutherford (West Indies), Ben Duckett (England), Benny Howell (England), Sheldon Cottrell (West Indies), Azam Khan (Pakistan)