Pravin Tambe Becomes The First Indian In The Caribbean Premier League

Pravin Tambe, the 48-year-old leg spinner, is set to become the first Indian to play in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), after he was picked by the Trinbago KnightRiders in the players’ draft.

The CPL is scheduled to take place in the Trinidad and Tobago islands from August 18 to September 10, subject to approval from the government. The matches will be played in empty stadiums. The players’ draft was held virtually on June 24.

Tambe found a bid of $7,500 from the Trinbago KnightRiders, the sister concern of the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Kolkata KnightRiders (KKR). Incidentally, he had been picked by KKR in the IPL auction last year, but could not participate in the tournament after the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) found him guilty of playing in unsanctioned cricket leagues like the T10 League.

Besides Tambe, the only other Indian in the players’ draft was hard-hitting batsman Asad Pathan, who represented the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the IPL a few seasons ago. Unfortunately Pathan had no takers.

The biggest earners in the draft were Afghanistan all-rounder Mohammad Nabi, Nepal leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane and Australian opening batsman Ben Dunk, each of whom fetched $130,000. Nabi was snapped up by the St Lucia Zouks. He will help fill the void created by Chris Gayle in the Zouks’ dressing room, after the latter pulled out of the CPL this year citing personal reasons. Lamichhane, who won the league with the Barbados Tridents last year, will be part of the Jamaica Tallawahs’ squad this season. Ben Dunk displayed hot form in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) and the Mzansi Super League (MSL), and was grabbed by the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots.

This year, the CPL allowed the six teams to sign overseas players outside of the draft for the first time. Afghanistan’s ace spinner Rashid Khan and destructive Australian opener Chris Lynn were signed up by the Tridents and the Patriots respectively before the draft. Both are believed to have fetched USD 160,000.

Another talking point was England’s batting sensation Tom Banton and limited overs captain Eoin Morgan going unsold. This may have to do with the fact that England are scheduled to play Pakistan around the same time, which means English players wouldn’t be available for portion of the tournament. The only Englishman to be picked in the draft was Alex Hales. Hales, who hasn’t featured in the national side since a year, went to the Tridents for USD 70,000. Former Pakistani all-rounder Shahid Afridi too remained unsold.

Tambe’s tryst with professional cricket has been nothing short of a fairy tale. A veteran in Mumbai’s club cricket scene, he had all but given up hope of playing at the first class level. But at age 41, he received a surprise call-up from the Rajasthan Royals for the IPL, after his skill with the ball was noticed by the then Royals’ captain Rahul Dravid. Tambe found success with the Royals and was the highest wicket-taker in the Champions League (CLT20) in 2013. His crowning moment came in the 2014 season of the IPL when he clinched a hat-trick against KKR at Ahmedabad. Since then he has also gone on to play for the Gujarat Lions and the Sunrisers Hyderabad. Last year, at 48, he became the oldest player ever to be sold in an IPL auction after he was bought by KKR.

Neel Gudka: I gave up a career in finance to do this. Clearly I shouldn't be making more decisions.