Exclusive: Why UAE's ILT20 star Alishan Sharafu looks up to Ben Stokes

Alishan will don the colours of the Sharjah Warriors which open their DP World ILT20 campaign against MI Emirates in Abu Dhabi on Saturday

by

Rituraj Borkakoty

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Alishan Sharafu bats during a net session. — Supplied photo
Alishan Sharafu bats during a net session. — Supplied photo

Published: Fri 13 Jan 2023, 9:03 PM

Last updated: Fri 13 Jan 2023, 9:05 PM

Attempting to clear the ropes with a swing of his bat for a six is something Alishan Sharafu will never get tired of.

It's what gives him the biggest joy on a cricket field.


It's also what helped him smash a T10 record when he hit a blistering 146 off just 42 balls at Ajman in 2020.

"As a kid, there is no better feeling in the world than hitting sixes. This is what I love and this is what I always try to do," Alishan, while talking to Khaleej Times, said of his attacking instinct with the bat.


This rising star, who famously led the UAE to a historic Plate Division triumph in the 2022 ICC Under 19 50 Overs World Cup, is now ready to start a new chapter in his career.

Alishan will don the colours of the Sharjah Warriors which open their DP World ILT20 campaign against MI Emirates in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

"It's a great opportunity for me to play in the ILT20. I am going to look to play the same way, hit sixes. Of course, I will also work on the other aspects as well. But hitting sixes is the biggest fun in the world," the 20-year-old batter said.

The ILT20, according to Alishan, is a pathbreaker for UAE's cricketers who can now rub shoulders with some of the greatest players.

"Three years ago, I was playing academy cricket. Now it's the most exciting thing we can be part of. The whole world will be watching and if you do well here, you can be noticed," the Kerala-born player said of the league in which each of the six franchises have to pick two UAE players in the playing eleven.

"An event like the ILT20 was something we always wanted growing up. Now for every kid that grew up playing cricket here, they have something great to look forward to.

"It's kind of a pathway for us to play the other leagues around the world as well and show the world what UAE cricket has got."

Finally, Alishan, a member of UAE's ICC T20 World Cup squad last year Down Under, revealed who his biggest idol is in the game.

"I admire Ben Stokes. He is aggressive, he is mature and if he stays, he is going to take the game away from you," he said.

"He is a game changer, that's something I want to be. He had his ups and downs, but he is a fighter, coming up from where he was," Alishan said, referring to the England superstar's rousing return from a battle with depression.

"So he is the one I look up to."


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