Junaid Siddique
Junaid Siddique of Sharjah Warriors celebrates the wicket of Bhanuka Rajapaksa of Dubai Capitals during the match 17 Image Credit: Courtesy: ILT20

Dubai: With rains playing spoilsport in the International League Twenty20, the UAE pacers Junaid Siddique and Akif Raja have shone brightly for Sharjah Warriors and Dubai Capitals.

Siddique is the second-highest wicket-taker during the inaugural edition of the league while Raja has shown his skills, claiming six wickets in six matches. Rains have played spoilsport over the last couple of days and the Gulf Giants-MI Emirates match abandoned at the Dubai International Stadium on Friday.

Siddique will be hoping to continue their impressive run when the Warriors take on Abu Dhabi Knight Riders at Dubai International Stadium at 2pm in the first of the double-header on Saturday. The first match was initially to be held at Sharjah Cricket Stadium, but due to the rains over the last few days, the match has now been shifted to Dubai, according to a press release from the organisers.

Siddique is particularly pleased with his contest against the former West Indian skipper and MI Emirates captain Kieron Pollard.

Making life difficult

“There are so many superstars in this tournament. The DP World ILT20 is a big opportunity to learn something different. Pollard is a T20 legend and I have got him out a few times. I have always looked to make batting difficult for him whenever I bowled against him,” Siddique, who produced his best bowling figures of two for four in the tournament against Dubai Capitals in Sharjah on Thursday, said.

“Naveen-ul-Haq and Chris Woakes have shared their experience with me. They have also shared tips with me and have spoken to me about how to bowl in difficult situations. The captain and the coaching staff have shown trust in my abilities and given me the big opportunity of being a frontline bowler for the Warriors.”

Akif Raja
Akif Raja is enjoying his stint with Dubai Capitals during the inaugural ILT20 season. His experience will help him in good stead when he turns out for UAE colours. Image Credit: Courtesy: ILT20

Raja said he was enjoying the tournament. “The tournament is going great for me. I am enjoying it a lot. It feels really great to dismiss good batters. I always try to get good batters out. I can help my team win if I can get the good batters out.”

Raja's confidence must be on a high after producing his best spell against Abu Dhabi Knight Riders in his previous outing, finishing with two for 20.

Raja, talking about bowling during the winter in the UAE, said: “The ball swings a lot during the winter months in the UAE. And you’ll get wickets if you bowl stump to stump. I try to bring the batter forward and try to get him out caught behind or LBW. I consider myself a wicket-taking bowler. And our coach has given me the freedom to go for wickets.”

Luke Wood replaces Tymal Mills

Desert Vipers will be banking on England left-arm fast bowler Luke Wood, who has replaced his compatriot Tymal Mills.

Playing his last match for the team against Sydney Thunder on January 25, albeit in a losing cause, Wood himself has been in top form and remains the highest wicket-taker for the Melbourne Stars with 20 scalps to his name. He will be eager to showcase his skills against Dubai Capitals in the second game on Saturday (6pm start), at Dubai International Stadium.

“I spoke to Alex Hales and Colin Munro and they said the ball has been swinging, so that suits me well. I have been following the tournament, even though it has been a bit tricky with the time zones (Wood has arrived from Australia). I am looking forward to getting underway and it looks like a good competition,” he told the Vipers Voices podcast.

Dubai Capitals will be hoping to string a few victories together as they get ready to take on the Desert Vipers. Speaking about their next encounter, the Dubai Capitals’ captain Rovman Powell said: “Any team can beat any side in this tournament. It’s been that sort of competition. Every team poses a challenge. But hopefully, we can play some good games in a row.”

Rovman Powell
Dubai Capitals skipper Rovman Powell ready for another game. Image Credit: Courtesy: Dubai Capitals Twitter

Long break

The Dubai Capitals had a three-day gap between their matches against MI Emirates on Sunday and Sharjah Warriors on Thursday. Powell said that the team carried out good training during their break. “It’s difficult to gain momentum after a large gap, but we have to find a way to get going as professional cricketers in each and every game. We used the gap to gel together as a unit and we carried out some good training as well.”

Dubai Capitals’ star batter Joe Root headed back home after the team’s clash against MI Emirates. Powell said that his departure will provide an opportunity for other players in the squad, “Joe Root’s departure provides an opportunity for guys like Hazratullah Zazai, who haven’t played much in the competition. They have to take their opportunities.”