The Indian Premier League (IPL) on Thursday announced four more star signings - Pakistan's skipper Shoaib Malik, Younis Khan and Mohammed Asif as well as New Zealander Brendon McCullum - after its governing council's first meeting in Mumbai.
Announcing this, IPL chairman and commissioner Lali Modi said the governing council decided on the length of the tournament that will be played between specially formed clubs.
"The governing council on Thursday decided on a forty-four day tournament featuring eight franchises in the first season. Each team will play seven home and away games against one another," he said in Mumbai.
"Also in keeping with our tradition to bring the best cricketing talent to play in the IPL, we are happy to announce the fresh inductions of four outstanding new talents taking the total foreign player signings to 29," he said, referring to the three Pakistanis and a Kiwi player.
Modi, also a vice-president of the Board of Control for Cricket India (BCCI), said that the governing council also agreed on each of the eight franchises having a playing squad of 16 comprising four internationally contracted players.
The squads would also include players registered with the BCCI and drawn from a central contract pool of Indian players. Each IPL team will also feature some under-21 players.
The designated players could well be contracted from the India's national team or overseas players, enabling them to have a taste of the Indian domestic season.
Modi said that the IPL governing council decided to sign a media partner agreement and commencing on a franchise tender marketing process by the end of next month. The franchise tendering process will be completed by December, and franchises will be granted by January.
Earlier, the IPL had announced the participation of the likes of Shane Warne, Glen McGrath, Stephen Fleming, Jacob Oram, Mahela Jayawardene, Chaminda Vaas, Sanath Jayasuriya, Graeme Smith, Herschelle Gibbs, Daniel Vettori, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammed Yousuf, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Justin Langer, Shaun Pollock, AB de Villiers, Ashwell Prince, Albie Morkel and Scott Styris.
The matches will be played after the usual office hours, between 7 pm and 10 pm to bring in lots of crowds.
Interest is bound to grow in IPL as India recently won the Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa last month.
Besides Modi, the IPL governing council members who attended the meeting were former BCCI president I.S. Bindra, BCCI vice-presidents Chirayu Amin and Rajeev Shukla, Delhi and District Cricket Association president Arun Jaitely and former India captains Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shashtri.
BCCI president Sharad Pawar and Andrew Wildblood, senior vice-president of the International Management Group, which is assisting BCCI in conceptualising and delivering the IPL, were also present in Mumbai.
Former India captain Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, also a member of the council, was absent.
All BCCI office bearers are ex-officio members of the IPL.
The governing council, which has been appointed for five years, will operate the IPL as a virtual company. It hopes to grow franchises to 16 by 2010.