Dubai, Sep 26 (IANS): Earlier this month, the 2022 Men's T20 Asia Cup, which was played between India, Pakistan, Hong Kong, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh witnessed a number of star performers who will dazzle the crowd in the inaugural season of the UAE's International League T20 (ILT20).
Sri Lanka's leg-spin all-rounder superstar Wanindu Hasaranga, who will wear the Desert Vipers jersey in the ILT20, finished as the second highest wicket-taker in the tournament with nine scalps and helped Sri Lanka lift the Asia Cup trophy for the sixth time.
Meanwhile, Hasaranga's compatriots, Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka and Dushmantha Chameera, who missed the tournament due to injury, will appear in the Dubai Capitals while Charith Asalanka will feature in the Abu Dhabi Knight Riders side.
They will be joined at the franchise by explosive left-handed batter Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who scored 191 runs in six Asia Cup matches, including an unbeaten, match-winning 71 off 45 balls in the final.
"It's always good to play an international T20 league and I am very glad to be a part of the Abu Dhabi Knight Riders and looking forward to giving my best for the team," said Asalanka. Hasaranga added, "I am very excited to be a part of Desert Vipers for the upcoming ILT20."
Meanwhile, Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi will star in the Sharjah Warriors side at the ILT20. His teammates Noor Ahmad and Rahmanullah Gurbaz will give him company at the Warriors.
Hazratullah Zazai (Dubai Capitals), Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Dubai Capitals), Fazalhaq Farooqi (Mumbai Indian Emirates), Najibullah Zadran (Mumbai Indian Emirates) are the other Afghanistan players featuring in the tournament.
Zazai expressed his happiness on being a part of the league. "I am really happy to be a part of the ILT20. Looking forward to the tournament and hope for fan support. Nabi added, "I am really excited to be a part of Sharjah Warriors in ILT20. We know that Sharjah loves cricket."
"It was fantastic to watch some of the ILT20 players at the Asia Cup. Most of them looked in tremendous form and League management are certain that all the players will light up the stage in the ILT20 next year as well."
"We were also very encouraged by the crowds, and the wonderful atmosphere in the stadiums, which gave us all a taste of what to expect when ILT20 launches in January. We are eagerly looking forward for the tournament to begin," said Mubashshir Usmani, General Secretary, Emirates Cricket Board.
India spin legend Harbhajan Singh was supportive of ILT20 happening in the UAE next year onwards. "It's a big step for UAE cricket to have their own league. The country has hosted three IPLs and it knows how to organize leagues. Big congratulations to UAE cricket and the ILT20 is going to be a great one as all the top players are going to be participating."
Making its debut in January 2023, the inaugural ILT20, which has received multi-year ICC approval, will be played in a 34-match format across the UAE's exemplary, world-class Cricket facilities in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, and will be broadcast live on ZEE's TV channels as well as on its digital streaming platform ZEE5.
Franchise teams, comprising 84 International and 24 UAE-based players, include Abu Dhabi Knight Riders (Knight Riders Group), Desert Vipers (Lancer Capital), Dubai Capitals (GMR), Gulf Giants (Adani Sportsline), MI Emirates (Reliance Industries), and Sharjah Warriors (Capri Global).