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Gayle takes his big hitting to Nepal's T20 league

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Kathmandu (AFP)

West Indies batting hero Chris Gayle has become the biggest international star to sign up for Nepal's Twenty20 league.

The self-proclaimed king of T20 announced late Thursday that he will join Pokhara Rhinos in the Everest Premier League (EPL) that is preparing for its fourth season.

"Nepal get ready for the Gayle storm. It is gonna be dashing. See you soon Nepal," he said in a video message on his Twitter account.

Gayle is leading a new crop of foreign imports including Aghanistan's Mohammad Shahzad and Sri Lankan batsman Upul Tharanga who will also play in the six-team tournament starting March 14.

EPL managing director Aamir Akhtar said it had taken months of negotiations to persuade Gayle to play in the Himalayan nation.

"The league had to mature and earn a certain reputation in the international market so someone like Chris Gayle would be ready to play," Akhtar told AFP.

"All the hard work from the last three years has actually convinced him that this is a clean, reputable league, followed by passionate cricket lovers.

"This signifies that Nepal is gearing up for the next level."

The 40-year-old Gayle, who has not appeared for the West Indies since August last year, recently said he wanted to "carry on as long as possible in T20 and franchise cricket as well".

Sandeep Lamichhane has become Nepal's biggest cricket name since joining the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2018 and has since appeared at other global tournaments including Australia's Big Bash.

Nepal gained one-day international status at the 2018 World Cup qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe, despite the suspension of their national governing body in 2016 over political interference.

The International Cricket Council lifted the ban in October last year.

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