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ILT20: UAE stars Waseem, Sanchit produce blockbuster performances in opening weekend

Waseem knocked a stunning 71 (39) while Sanchit carded 3 wickets for 9 runs – both being awarded ‘Player of the Match’ for their respective matches

Dubai: The UAE players Muhammad Waseem and Sanchit Sharma set the stage on fire with their exceptional outings in the opening weekend of the DP World International League T20, being held on their home grounds. MI Emirates’ Waseem played a whirlwind knock of 71 runs, from 39 balls, against Sharjah Warriors on Saturday, while Gulf Giants’ Sharma rattled the Abu Dhabi Knight Riders’ top-order with figures of 3 wickets for 9 runs on Sunday, both performances earned both the ‘Player of the Match’ award for their respective matches.

Sharma, who dismissed Colin Ingram, Brandon King and Connor Esterhuizen, was also on a hat-trick at one of point in the game. “This is a dream debut for me. I couldn’t have started my franchise cricket career in a better way. I visualised how my team and I would play and the reality was similar to my visualisation. I was disappointed about missing the hat-trick. I should have bowled on the stumps rather than going for the delivery outside the off-stump,” said the fast bowler.

When asked about his terrific seam position, the speedster replied with a glint in his eye, “I idolise Bhuvneshwar Kumar. I try to replicate how he swings and seams the ball. The third wicket was my favourite as it was a proper Test match delivery. The ball was pitched up and touched the outside edge of Connor Esterhuizen’s bat on its way to Liam Dawson at first slip.”

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Sharma’s sister Khushi, who has played 31 international matches for the UAE, was there to support her brother at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi, “My family came all the way from Sharjah to watch the game. I could hear my dad shouting for every single ball and I was really excited to be there in the middle. My sister Khushi also had a few words of advice for me.”

Meanwhile, Waseem, who lit up the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi with five boundaries and five sixes, said, “The DP World ILT20 is a great opportunity for UAE players and we want to show the kind of talent UAE has in cricket. I tried showing that in our match against Sharjah Warriors and hopefully, I will keep showing it in the future too.”

The opening batter, who strung a 79-run partnership with Nicholas Pooran against Sharjah Warriors added, “Pooran and I discussed about which bowlers we should attack in the middle. The straight six off Karthik Meiyappan was my favourite maximum of my innings against the Warriors.”

Waseem also spoke about the support he has received from the MI Emirates camp, “The MI Emirates management, captain and senior players have all supported us. They also lifted my confidence after my performance against Sharjah Warriors.”

The DP World ILT20 made its debut at the Dubai International Stadium on 13 January 2023. Some of the greatest cricketing superstars have made their way to the UAE to play in the inaugural edition of the league. The tournament will be played in a 34-match format across the UAE’s exemplary, world-class cricket facilities in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. Franchise teams, comprising over 100 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).

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