Dubai: English county club Somerset has signed Pakistan batsman Babar Azam for the upcoming T20 Vitality Blast. The player would be available for all 14 of Somerset's group stage matches as well as the quarter-finals of the tournament.
His participation beyond the quarter-finals stage is subject to international commitments.
"I am looking forward to the new challenge that playing T20 cricket in England will bring," he said. "I have heard good things about Somerset from Azhar Ali and I want to play a part in the club winning matches. I know that Somerset get good support and I hope that I can give them something to cheer about this year," International Cricket Council (ICC) quoted Azam, as saying on Friday.
Somerset has plenty to smile with Azam's selection as the player would be available for the major chunk of the tournament and he would bring quality to the Somerset line-up.
"To be able to sign a player of the calibre of Babar Azam is tremendously exciting. He is a proven performer at the very highest level and that is highlighted by the fact that he is the top-rated international T20 batsman in the world," ICC quoted Andy Hurry, Somerset's Director of Cricket, as saying.
"Obviously, everyone wants to sign a world-class performer but we feel that continuity of selection is equally important. For us it is about securing the services of someone as talented as Babar Azam for more than just a handful of fixtures," he added.
The player has mind-boggling numbers in the T20 format at international level as he has scored 1,182 runs from 29 matches at an average of 53.72.
Azam would be hoping to put up a strong performance in the upcoming World Cup. Pakistan takes on West Indies in their opening match of the World Cup on 31 May.