Former India U19 captain Unmukt Chand joins Big Bash's Melbourne Renegades

Former India U19 captain Unmukt Chand joins Big Bash's Melbourne Renegades
Former India U19 captain Unmukt Chand. Source: IANS

Melbourne, Nov 4 (IANS) Former Delhi cricketer Unmukt Chand on Thursday became the first Indian male player to sign up for Australia's domestic T20 competition the Big Bash League, agreeing to a deal with Melbourne Renegades.

Indian women players have long played in domestic leagues around the world, including the Women's Big Bash League, but India's international and domestic male players are currently not permitted to play in competitions abroad. The players have to retire from all forms of cricket to play in leagues abroad.

Unmukt, a 28-year-old opening batter, retired from Indian cricket earlier this year to play in the United States, meaning he is free to play in the BBL and other domestic leagues around the world.

"I've loved watching the Big Bash and players around the world coming in ... it's a great platform and I always wanted to play there. I'm really looking forward in the coming years that I can make a name for myself and hopefully win championships for the teams I play for," Unmukt was quoted as saying by Melbourne Renegades in a release on Thursday.

"I'm really looking forward to coming to Melbourne and to get going. I've always enjoyed playing in Australia. I haven't been to Melbourne before… I know there are lots of Indians in Melbourne, so it's going to be nice, and I hope the crowds turn up for games as well," he added.

Unmukt, who captained the India U-19 to World Cup glory in 2012, has never played for the senior national team but has led India A side and represented Delhi, Mumbai, and Rajasthan franchises in the Indian Premier League (IPL), having made his debut in the competition as an 18-year old.

At the Delhi franchise, Unmukt opened the batting alongside Renegades teammate Aaron Finch, and shared a dressing room with Kane Richardson at Rajasthan, while at the Mumbai Indians he was coached by Ricky Ponting as the club won an IPL trophy.

"He brings a wealth of cricket experience," Renegades coach David Saker said. "To have a player joining our team who has represented three IPL teams and led his country at 'A' and Under 19 level is fantastic. As a batter, Unmukt is dynamic and can change games quickly. He has spent much of his career at the top of the order, but we believe he has the flexibility to fill a variety of roles as we need," he added.

Unmukt is the second international signed up by the Renegades, two days after confirming on Wednesday Reece Topley, the 201cm left-arm quick who has been called up to England's T20 World Cup squad, will be joining them for the 11th season of the league.