UAE Cricket Collage-1670853557701
Six UAE players (clockwise from left top) CP Rizwan, Vriitya Aravind, Alishan Sharafu, Basil Hameed, Aayan Khan and Karthik Meiyappan have been shortlisted for the IPL auction, to be held on December 23. Image Credit: Courtesy: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Six UAE players are ready to move into the big league after being shortlisted for auction for the Indian Premier League 2023.

UAE skipper CP Rizwan, Vriitya Aravind, the vice-captain, ace leg-spinner Karthik Meiyappan who claimed a hat-trick against Sri Lanka in the recently concluded Twenty20 World Cup in Australia, young all-rounders Aayan Afzal Khan and Alishan Sharafu and Basil Hameed have been shortlisted for the auction, one of the highest number of players from an Associate Nation.

Netherlands (seven), Zimbabwe (six) and Namibia (five) are the other Associate Nations to have the maximum number of players among 991 registered for the auction, set to take place on December 23 in Kochi.

Australians lead the list

With 277 overseas players in fray, Australia lead the number with 57 followed by South Africa 52, West Indies 33 and England 31. There is every chance that the England players are likely to fetch more after the World Cup-winning performance.

Hameed and Rizwan have a base price of Rs3 million while the other four have a base price of Rs2 million. One of the reasons for the popularity of the UAE cricketers is due to their impressive show in the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia.

It has seen one of the best years in the history of UAE after qualifying for the Twenty20 World Cup for the second time, they recorded their first win in the showpiece, a seven-run verdict over Namibia. A loss in the penultimate ball against the Netherlands in the opener cost them the place in the Super 12 in the final scheme of things.

Professional league

The UAE are also in the race for a spot in the 50-over World Cup to be held in India next year while the cricketers are set to embark on a the professional league with the launch of the six-team franchise-based International League Twenty20, to begin in January 2023. It will give them the chance to share the dressing room with some of the top international players and learn from the experience of the pros, which could only enhance the quality of the game in the country.

It is also the first time that six UAE players have been shortlisted for the auction, while UAE opener Chirag Suri had the honour of being part of the Gujarat Lions in 2017. Some of the current players have also attended the trials for the IPL, while leg-spinner Karthik was part of the net bowlers for Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Chennai Super Kings when the IPL was played in the UAE.

The busy period for the UAE players begin with the Emirates D20 at the Dubai International Stadium. Six teams will be competing in 33 matches in a 16-day period with the final to be held on December 28.

Sustainable pathway

Mubashshir Usmani, General Secretary Emirates Cricket Board, said: “Emirates Cricket is delighted to have an established and sustainable pathway for the growth and development of our game at the domestic level, and the D20 is an integral step along this path. At this incredibly exciting juncture in Emirates Cricket’s history, we look at this series as a perfect facilitator to highlight and introduce more of UAE’s cricketing talent to the world. We are committed to elevating our local players onto the global stage through our pathways.”

The six teams — Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah and Emirates Blues, a team formed by Emirates Cricket Board — will comprise of a mix of the UAE’s most-talented senior and up-and-coming male players.

“The success of this tournament is a testament to the dedication of our board as well as our Councils and affiliates, and we extend our thanks to ITW Consulting, as partners of both our D10 and D20 tournaments who take our domestic talent to the cricket-loving world through various streaming services,” Mubashshir added.