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MLC: Rashid, Klaasen, Pooran, Boult, Rauf among overseas players retained

A total of 23 overseas players who were part of the inaugural season will be seen in action in the USA this July too

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
Nicholas Pooran, who lit up the inaugural final with a 55-ball 137*, has been retained by MI New York  •  Sportzpics

Nicholas Pooran, who lit up the inaugural final with a 55-ball 137*, has been retained by MI New York  •  Sportzpics

A number of the world's leading short-form cricketers will stay in North America after June's T20 World Cup, with Rashid Khan, Trent Boult, Heinrich Klaasen and Haris Rauf among the players retained by their franchises for the second edition of Major League Cricket (MLC) in July.
The season will start on July 4, Independence Day in the USA and five days after the T20 World Cup final in Barbados, with a significant number of players expected to feature in both tournaments. Justin Geale, MLC's tournament director, had said late last year, "We expect to see even more world-class players taking part in season two."
In total, 23 overseas players have been retained for the second season with defending champions MI New York keeping hold of seven. Nicholas Pooran, who hit 137 not out off 55 balls in the final in the inaugural season, is among them, along with Kieron Pollard, Tim David, Dewald Brevis, Kagiso Rabada, Boult and Rashid.
Klaasen, who was named MVP at the SA20 earlier this month, will return to Seattle Orcas alongside compatriots Wayne Parnell, who captained the franchise last year, and Quinton de Kock, while Imad Wasim is also retained. Faf du Plessis, Devon Conway and Mitchell Santner were retained by Stephen Fleming's Texas Super Kings.
Jason Roy returns to LA Knight Riders and may miss some of Surrey's T20 Blast group fixtures as a result, with his county yet to confirm details of his 2024 contract. Sunil Narine, Adam Zampa, Spencer Johnson and Andre Russell are the four other players retained.
Ricky Ponting, Washington Freedom's new coach, has retained only two overseas players from the franchise's 2023 cohort: Akeal Hosein and Marco Jansen. San Francisco Unicorns have also overhauled their overseas list, with Rauf and New Zealand's Finn Allen their only two retentions at this stage.
Franchises will now approach players on the open market after announcing their initial retentions, with a maximum of nine overseas players permitted in each squad and up to six permitted in a single playing XI. Domestic retentions are due to be confirmed by the end of the month, with a local player draft to follow in March.
MLC's fixture list has not been confirmed publicly but ESPNcricinfo understands that the final has been provisionally scheduled for July 28. The league is due to overlap with the end of the group stages of England's T20 Blast, as well as the first week of the Hundred.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98