Caribbean Premier League (CPL) teams St Lucia Stars and Barbados Tridents drafted in two Indian players in Jaskaran Malhotra and Sunny Sohal. However, these players are only born in India, but they play for the USA national cricket team.
Some might remember the name of Sunny Sohal, who played for Deccan Chargers in the initial years of IPL. 28-year-old Malhotra and 30-year-old Sohal are on a four-year professional visa and were picked by the CPL teams in a draft which a record 227 foreign players and 121 West Indian players were featured.
Malhotra was USA’s leading run-getter with a total of 277 runs in the team’s participation in the CWI Super50 tournament in Antigua. The CPL 2018 begins on August 7.
“After getting picked for the US team for the West Indies tour, I was eagerly waiting for the CPL draft. And, to be picked up by a team which has players like Kieron Pollard and Darren Sammy means a lot. I moved to USA four years ago as I wanted to play professional cricket here and this opportunity will also see us playing against some of the Pakistani pacers like Shahid Afridi, Wahab Riaz and Imad Wasim. Last year, I played for my club US All Stars in the USA T-20 league where I was man of the match and got a chance to share the dressing room with players like Dwayne Bravo and Saeed Ajmal,” said Malhotra.
Jaskaran Malhotra, who moved to USA in 2014, captained Himachal U19 team and was part of India’s U19 camp. Malhotra currently acts as coach at the KYC Youth Academy in Houston.
Sunny Sohal on the other hand was part of India’s U19 team which had Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja and Manish Pandey. He played for Punjab Ranji team and featured in IPL for KXIP and DC. Sohal plays for Potomac Cricket Club in Washington DC.
“When I moved from India, I was disappointed by the selection policy in Punjab cricket. I had to start from scratch here in USA and would play in the local club tournaments. The last two years have seen team USA playing with regular faces and the West Indies tour last month helped us a lot. Barbados Tridents have players like Martin Guptill and Hashim Amla and I am looking forward to playing with them,” said Sohal, who made his first class debut for Punjab in 2005.
US cricket team currently features in ICC World Cricket League Division Three and will play in the 2020 ICC T-20 World Cup qualifiers to be held in August this year.
“In USA, we mostly play on artificial pitches while international tournaments happen on turf pitches. So, we aim to play more cricket on turf pitches and help USA move up to Division Two,” says Malhotra.
“Our coach Pubudu Dassanayake, who has played Test cricket for Sri Lanka in the past, has been a motivational force for all of us. We want to show that we can also compete at the global level,” said Sohal.
(With inputs from the Indian Express)