DP World International League Dignitaries with trophy-1671114862002
From left: Abdulla Bin Damithan, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP World, Khalid Al Zarooni and Mubashshir Usmani, Emirates Cricket Board General Secretary after signing the five-year deal. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: International League T20 and DP World have jointly announced a five-year title sponsorship on Thursday, that will see the six-team franchise competition named as the DP World International League T20.

The agreement comes as 84 international cricket stars from across the world, such as Andre Russell, Shimron Hetmyer, Moeen Ali, Kieron Pollard and Wanindu Hasaranga, a number of shining Associate players, including Mark Watt and David Wiese, as well as 24 of UAE’s current and rising talents, look to converge on the UAE and prepare for the inaugural season of UAE’s home-grown T20 competition, to be held from January 13 to February 12.

34 teams in fray

The inaugural DP World International League T20 includes the teams Abu Dhabi Knight Riders, Desert Vipers, Dubai Capitals, Gulf Giants, MI Emirates and Sharjah Warriors. The teams will play for the magnificent, coveted trophy through a total of 34 matches, where all matches will be telecasted live on the expansive, global Zee Network

Khalid Al Zarooni, Chairman International League T20, commented on the sponsorship: “We are exceptionally pleased to enter into this multi-year partnership with DP World as title sponsor of the International League T20. DP World is synonymous with high profile sports and internationally renowned sporting events. This partnership between two UAE-based entities is incredibly gratifying, and we are extremely appreciative of their commitment in supporting a UAE-grown sporting-initiative as we launch the inaugural edition of the league across the UAE.”

Abdulla Bin Damithan, CEO and Managing Director of DP World UAE and Jafza said: “DP World is delighted to confirm our title partnership for the DP World International League T20 competition. The event, which reflects DP World, Dubai, and the UAE’s spirit of innovation, inclusivity, and community engagement, will help introduce the sport to new audiences in the UAE, leave a legacy, and affirm the region’s unique position as a hub for world-class sports.”

League gaining momentum

The ILT20 is gathering momentum with under one month to go for the start of the inaugural edition, teams have started naming their captains, key players and the jerseys that they will be wearing in 2023.

Colin Munro

Colin Munro, the 35-year-old New Zealand batter, has been named captain of the Desert Vipers squad. Alongside a successful international career, Munro has gathered a vast wealth of T20 franchise cricket experience making him an ideal candidate for the job.

True globetrotter

He is a true globetrotter having played in the Indian Premier League, the Pakistan Super League, the Caribbean Premier League, Australia’s Big Bash League, The Hundred in England, domestically in New Zealand, plus playing county cricket in England and Wales.

And while Munro has not had a lot of previous experience as captain, Director of Cricket Tom Moody said he believed the New Zealander as the best man for the job. “I think when you have someone who has played the volume of cricket in franchise cricket, around the world as long as Colin has done, you don’t get someone better qualified, because he has worked in more dressing rooms than probably I have, and most people have, over his journey as a player.”

Munro said he was pleased to have the job, and was confident he could make a success of it: “This will be a new challenge for me and I have not had much captaincy experience, but I have played a lot of cricket, and been around for a long time, and been part of leadership groups and senior committees on different teams that I have played in.”

Sunil Narine
Sunil Narine, who has been part of the Kolkata Knight Riders bandwagon, will be leading the Abu Dhabi Knight Riders. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Narine excited with new role

Meanwhile, West Indian all-rounder Sunil Narine has been appointed as the captain of Abu Dhabi Knight Riders. Narine has been part of the Knight Riders bandwagon ever since he was signed up by the Kolkata franchise in the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2012.

“I’m very excited to take up the role as captain of Abu Dhabi Knight Riders. It’s a new challenge because now I have to think about the functioning of our whole team, rather than just focus on my game or my four overs. It’s something I’m really looking forward to,” he said in an official release by the franchise.

Narine also represents the Trinbago Knight Riders in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL). “I have grown on Knight Riders, and Knight Riders have grown on me, so it’s like a family. Everywhere they have a team, I love being a part of it.”

The quartet of Sharjah Warriors’ UAE players are ready to put on a stellar show in the franchise league. Sharjah’s ‘fab four’ team of home players, comprising UAE Under-19 captain Alishan Sharafu, leg-spinner Karthik Meiyappan and pacers Junaid Siddique and Jawad Ullah, are eyeing a ‘perfect start’ to an ‘exciting’ ILT20 debut campaign.

UAE's Karthik Meiyappan
UAE leg-spinner Karthik Meiyappan, who is celebrating his hat-trick in the Twenty20 World Cup against Sri Lanka, is eager to showcase his skills for Sharjah Warriors. Image Credit: AFP file

“It is a matter of pride for me to represent Sharjah and be part of a star-studded team. Hope we can bring the trophy home by getting off to a great start,” said Meiyappan, 22, who became the first ICC Associate Member nation player and only the fifth in T20 World Cup history to take a hat-trick earlier this year while playing against Sri Lanka at the 2022 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia. “And for the four of us, there can’t be a bigger stage than this, especially one that is set for us in our own home.”

Perfect opportunity

Sharafu, the age-group captain, echoes the same sentiment. “This is just the start. It is the perfect opportunity to show our talent on a global stage. Just by being there around the best players of the world who play in the top leagues, will give us a huge boost as players. Hopefully, we can do the best we can,” said the 19-year-old who made his T20I debut in February 2020.

Another player who is ready to give his all when the inaugural edition of the ILT20 starts in less than four weeks’ time is right-arm fast medium bowler Muhammad Junaid Siddique. “With ILT20, the UAE players like us have an enormous opportunity to not just learn from the top guys and groom ourselves but also earn substantially while opening the doors for us to play in other leagues outside on the back of strong performances,” said Siddique, who chose Sharjah Warriors because of its ‘family’ kind of set-up.

It’s the same motivation for the exciting, fresh-faced Jawad. “I am indeed very lucky to be part of such a great team. Inshallah, the ILT20 league will give all of us the opportunity to shine,” said the 23-year-old from the distant city of Al Ain who waltzed into the national team in just two years after landing in the country.

MI Emirates unveil jersey

MI Emirates on Thursday unveiled their official match jersey. Crafted by designer duo Shantnu & Nikhil in the iconic MI blue & gold colour scheme, the jersey dedicated to the local fans.

A gold mine of opportunities lying in the highs and lows of natural vastness, the MI Emirates jersey celebrates the root through a global eye that the world uses to visualise this emerging new part of the world. Re-imagining Emirates through modern art, its iconic structures and pristine beaches through sketches on a modern artist, sand dunes take a triangular landscape, presenting a myriad of scapes in various shades of blue and gold.