The 2020 edition of the India Premier League will now have two Associate players, according to ESPN Cricinfo’s Peter Della Penna. American fast bowler Ali Khan joins the Kolkata Knight Riders as a replacement for England T20 specialist Harry Gurney, who has opted out for shoulder surgery. The move has been anticipated for some time now, with Tribago Knight Riders essentially under the same ownership as Kolkata.
Hailing from Ohio since moving with his family as a teenager from Pakistan, the 29 year old fast bowler represented Trinbago Knight Riders for the past three seasons, winning two championships along the way. Known for his yorker proficiency and his knack for taking wickets in the powerplay, Ali struck in his first over of both championship finals.
Instrumental in USA Cricket clinching ODI status, Ali was the leading wicket taker in the 2019 ICC World Cricket League Division Two with 17 in 5 games. Fellow USA Cricketer Sunny Sohal played in the IPL from 2008 until 2011 for Deccan Chargers and Kings XI Punjab before making his debut for Team USA in 2018. Rusty Theron, South African origin bowler currently representing USA Cricket, played for Kings XI Punjab, Deccan Chargers and Rajasthan Royals from 2010 through 2015. This gives Ali the trivia-level distinction of being both the third USA Cricketer to play in IPL, and the first cricketer to first represent USA Cricket before playing in the IPL.
With TKR able to retain the American year after year in the reserved ICC Americas slot at a cost of only $3,000 against their salary cap (or only 0.3% of the cap), it’s plain to see the value Ali has provided the team. Now that Ali’s earned a spot on an IPL franchise, the juxtaposition between quality and cost has reached a level of absurdity, and one wonders if this will be addressed by CPL administration before the 2021 season for the sake of league parity.
Ali joins Nepal leg spinner Sandeep Lamichhane as the only two Associate representatives in the top T20 cricket league in the world. The path into the playing eleven for Ali Khan will be significantly more difficult than it appears to be for Sandy, with international fast bowling superstars Pat Cummins and Lockie Furguson ahead of Ali on the KKR depth chart. Conversely, Sandy has already appeared in 9 games over 2 seasons for Delhi, taking 13 wickets at 22.46 with an economy of 8.34.
The 2020 IPL season is scheduled to kick off in the UAE on Saturday, September 19.
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