Former India wicketkeeper-batsman Naman Ojha has been drafted into the Desert Vipers squad for the ongoing ILT20 in the UAE as a replacement for Sri Lanka batter Dinesh Chandimal.
Chandimal will be leaving ILT20 as he has been called up for domestic duty by the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC). Ojha is expected to join the squad on February 5, ahead of the Vipers' first playoff game, on February 8 in Dubai.
"We're sorry that we're losing Chandimal; although he didn't play, he was a superb influence around the squad and provided great backup to Sam Billings; we're delighted to get Naman in as his replacement."
"He's a player who's played at the top level, has played high-level franchise cricket in the IPL and he's someone I have worked with at Hyderabad, so I know his qualities.
He will be a terrific addition to the squad as we move to the business end of the DP World ILT20," said Tom Moody, Director of Cricket, Desert Vipers, in a statement.
Ojha began his cricket career playing for the Madhya Pradesh side in 2000-01 as a 17-year-old, and he has represented India in one Test (2015 against Sri Lanka), an ODI and two T20Is.
"I am really excited about being part of the Desert Vipers team in the DP World ILT20. After retiring in 2021, I have been looking for wicket-keeping and batting opportunities in franchise teams.
So, this is a terrific opportunity for me." "I have been following the DP world ILT20 for the last two weeks, and I find this tournament really interesting.
It is being played in Dubai, Sharjah, and Abu Dhabi, where conditions are similar to those in India, so I feel if I have the chance to play, I can make a difference to the team I am picked for," he said on his association with Desert Vipers.
In the Indian domestic circuit, Ojha has played 146 First Class matches, 143 List A and 182 T20 games, with impressive tallies of 9,753, 4,278 and 2,972 runs respectively.
He has played for Hyderabad Sunrisers, Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Daredevils (now Delhi Capitals) in the IPL. Following a successful two-decade-long domestic career, Ojha retired from all forms of cricket in 2021 to explore opportunities in global franchise leagues.