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

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

ILT20 2024 Winner- MI Emirates (Source: Zee Cricket)

Dubai, 05 March 2024: Following the resounding success of the recently concluded ILT20 2024, 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 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.

Speaking on his experience with the ADKR team Alishan Sharafu said, “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.”

Also read: ILT20 2024 garners staggering 221 million viewers

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.”

He further opined, “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.

Ali Naseer reiterated the widespread impact of the ILT20 on the cricket ecosystem in the UAE. “In the past, promising cricketers would sometimes leave the UAE to seek opportunities elsewhere but ever since the ILT20, players are incentivized to play cricket in the UAE. 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.”

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.

Echoing Ali Naseer’s sentiments, Zuhaib Zubair of the Gulf Giants highlighted the significant development in his bowling due to the experienced players in the camp.

“Practicing 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 practicing hard, but the likes of Andy Flower, Carlos Braithwaite and Chris Jordan gave me the confidence to go out and execute.”

On bowling in partnership with UAE U-19 team captain Aayan, Zubair said, “Bowling with Aayan was a great experience for me, when he would get a breakthrough it would give me a lot of confidence as well.”

“For the upcoming year I want to do well for the UAE national team, and when I return for season 3 of the ILT20, my goal is to be the best bowler.”

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