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Sri Lanka's ace spinner Wanindu Hasaranga is one of the leading Asia Cup stars to be part of the UAE ILT20. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Sri Lankan and Afghanistan stars who shone in the Asia Cup will be returning to UAE to dazzle again, this time in the inaugural International League T20 to be held in January 2023.

Sri Lanka’s 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 dismissals and helped Sri Lanka lift the Asia Cup. Meanwhile, Hasaranga’s compatriots Dasun Shanaka and Dushmantha Chameera will appear for Dubai Capitals, who will be joined by Bhanuka Rajapaksa, while Charith Asalanka will feature for Abu Dhabi Knight Riders.

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Dasun Shanaka, who guided Sri Lanka to Asia Cup title, will be playing for Dubai Capitals. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Giving my best

“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. While Hasaranga said, “I am very excited to be a part of Desert Vipers for the upcoming ILT20.”

Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s captain Mohammad Nabi will star for the Sharjah Warriors along with teammates Noor Ahmad and Rahmanullah Gurbaz. 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 one of the most exciting T20 tournaments in the world.

Zazai expressed his happiness on being a part of the league, saying: “I am really happy to be a part of the ILT20. Looking forward to the tournament and hope for fan support. While Mohammad Nabi said, “I am really excited to be a part of Sharjah Warriors in ILT20. We know that Sharjah loves cricket.”

Tremendous form

Speaking about the range of players in the ILT20, Mubashshir Usmani, General Secretary, Emirates Cricket Board said: “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.”

Former Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh also shared his views on the ILT20, “It’s a big step for UAE cricket to have its own league. The country has hosted three IPLs and it knows how to organise 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 linear television as well as on digital streaming platform ZEE5.

Franchise teams, comprising 84 International and 24 UAE-based players, include Abu Dhabi Knight Riders (Kolkata Knight Riders), Desert Vipers (Lancer Capital), Dubai Capitals (GMR), Gulf Giants (Adani Sportsline), MI Emirates (Reliance Industries), and Sharjah Warriors (Capri Global).