UAE's rising stars laud ILT20 for boosting cricket and player development

Abu Dhabi Knight Riders' top-order batter Alishan Sharafu scored 220 runs in the tournament including an unbeaten match winning 82

By Team KT

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Alishan Sharafu of Abu Dhabi Knight Riders plays a shot. — ILT20
Alishan Sharafu of Abu Dhabi Knight Riders plays a shot. — ILT20

Published: Tue 5 Mar 2024, 9:09 PM

Following the resounding success of the recently concluded ILT20 Season 2, rising cricket stars from the UAE reflect on their treasured experience at the marquee tournament widely acknowledged as one of the fastest growing T20 leagues in the world.

Desert Vipers’ Ali Naseer, Abu Dhabi Knight Riders’ Alishan Sharafu, and Gulf Giants’ Zuhaib Zubair shared insight on how the tournament served as an opportunity to imbibe best practices from some of the greatest names in international cricket such as Nicholas Pooran, Andre Russel, David Warner, Trent Boult, Sam Billings and Sunil Narine while underscoring the DP World ILT20’s role towards growing cricket in the region.

Abu Dhabi Knight Riders’ top-order batter Alishan Sharafu scored 220 runs in the tournament including an unbeaten match winning 82 against a formidable Desert Vipers bowling attack including Pakistan stalwarts Muhammad Amir, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Shadab Khan.

"It was a great experience to be a part of this tournament. Abu Dhabi Knight Riders are a great franchise to play for. I was fortunate that they trusted me and gave me opportunities and I am glad that I could help the team win matches,” Sharafu said.

On the experience of playing with globally recognised stalwarts of the game such as Andre Russell, Sunil Narine and Imad Wasim, Sharafu added, “They were so welcoming and made everybody feel like a part of the family. A couple of days in the camp it already felt like we had been playing together for a long time.

“Playing with the biggest names and watching how they go about their business is massively helpful for my confidence and skill set. Hopefully, I can put it to use while wearing the national colours.”

Vipers’ all-rounder Ali Naseer scored 83 runs including an unbeaten 63 against MI Emirates’s potent attack that included Akeal Hosein, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Trent Boult and Waqar Salamkheil. He also took one wicket from the five overs he bowled in the tournament.

“In the past, promising cricketers would sometimes leave the UAE to seek opportunities elsewhere but ever since the DP World ILT20, players are incentivized to play cricket in the UAE," Naseer said.

"Not only is it helping cricketers financially, but it also gives them a chance to get international exposure and become better players, which will lead to a stronger national team as well.”

The 19-year-old went on to reflect on the recently concluded season.

“I think it has helped me develop as a player. To be able to face a bowler like Trent Boult and to score runs really helps your confidence,” he said.

Gulf Giants’ leg-spinner Zuhaib Zubair took 11 wickets in eight matches, his tally included an exceptional match winning four-wicket haul against Sharjah Warriors at the Dubai International Stadium.

“Practising with experienced coaches and batsmen in the nets has been very beneficial to me and will be for any player. It helped me build a certain level of maturity as a bowler. I had been practising hard, but the likes of Andy Flower, Carlos Braithwaite and Chris Jordan gave me the confidence to go out and execute,” he said.


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