Shaheen Afridi and other players to watch at the Asia Cup in the UAE

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Shaheen Afridi is part of Pakistan's squad

In less than a week, the 14th edition of the Asia Cup will kick off where the continent’s biggest stars (minus Virat Kohli) will be in action in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Defending champions India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Hong Kong make up the six teams and besides the big names, there are plenty of cricketers who are more than capable of doing the damage with bat or ball.

Here are five players to watch out for when the 50-over tournament begins from September 15.

KHALEEL AHMED (INDIA)

With 28 wickets in 17 List A matches, the 20-year-old has been knocking on the door for some time now for a senior cap and now he’s got his chance to press his case. Highly-rated by legendary batsman Rahul Dravid, the left-arm pacer was part of India’s ‘A’ squad in England this summer, taking five wickets against England Lions and isn’t short of confidence having played in the IPL. With his potential, Ahmed could well be the hidden gem that India are looking for.

Waiting for his chance: Khaleel Ahmed

Waiting for his chance: Khaleel Ahmed

SHAHEEN AFRIDI (PAKISTAN)

The signs were already there when Shaheen Afridi took 8/39 in the second innings of a domestic game but it was in January when the 18-year-old really came into the spotlight. At the Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand, he produced the goods taking 12 wickets for the men in green. The only way has been up for the left-arm medium-pacer since then. He has replicated the goods at the PSL and then for Pakistan in their T20 tri-series against Australia where he has three caps to his name. It’s only a matter of time before he wins his first ODI cap and his selection itself suggests it could well come in the UAE.

Shaheen Afridi is waiting for his ODI cap

Shaheen Afridi is waiting for his ODI cap

MUJEEB UR RAHMAN (AFGHANISTAN)

Rashid Khan might well lead Afghanistan’s attack but even if the 19-year-old has a bad day, they can call on Mujeeb Ur Rahman. It’s hard to believe that at just 17-years-old, the right-arm off-breaker only made his international debut last December but has 26 caps already. With 46 wickets in all formats, (37 of those in ODIs) tells you everything you need to know about the threat that he can pose. He won’t be fazed by the occasion either considering he played in packed crowds at the IPL this year.

Mujeeb is highly rated in the Afghanistan camp

Mujeeb is highly rated in the Afghanistan camp

AKILA DANANJAYA (SRI LANKA)

Will miss the start of the tournament because his wife is expected to give birth but when he does land in Dubai, the 24-year-old off-breaker has all the qualities to make the difference. South Africa batsmen got a first-hand view of the damage he can do when he took 14 wickets in the recent five-match series including six scalps in the final ODI. He will certainly have a trick or two up his sleeve in the Emirates.

Akila Dananjaya will be vital for Sri Lanka

Akila Dananjaya will be vital for Sri Lanka

ANSHY RATH (HONG KONG)

Hong Kong-born but educated in England, Rath is still learning the game but his stats show he is quickly mastering the techniques to become a top cricketer. The batsman has already played 16 ODIs and 20 T20Is – not bad given he is only 20 years old. Even more impressive given he is the national team captain. He is certainly the least familiar name on this list but the left-hander comes into the tournament having scored big against ODI nations UAE (102) and Nepal (52) in the Qualifier as well as 85 runs against Test nation Zimbabwe earlier this year.

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South Africa go ahead with T20 league plans

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Cricket South Africa on Saturday decided to go ahead with a new Twenty20 league but did not reveal details about teams or players.

In a statement issued after the board’s annual meeting, CSA said the league will be played from November 9 to December 16. It will include six teams who will play 30 home and away matches followed by one eliminator match and a final, AFP reported.

The statement said details, including venues, would be announced shortly.

According to reports, the league will feature city-based teams which will differ from the six franchises currently playing in South Africa‘s domestic circuit.

The much-publicised eight-team Global T20 league, which was to be played during the same period last year, was cancelled after CSA failed to find a sponsor or a broadcaster.

The GLobal T20 fiasco led to chief executive Haroon Lorgat being fired with CSA forced to pay compensation to 144 local and international players who had been signed. At least four of the eight private owners who joined the league have indicated they may take legal action against the board.

Despite losing an estimated $14 million following the cancellation of the Global T20 league, CSA reported a profit of almost $23 million after a year in which South Africa hosted India and Australia.

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Asia Cup 2018: Where and when to watch matches in the UAE

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The Asia Cup begins in the UAE on September 15 with Hong Kong qualifying for the tournament at the expense of UAE and joining India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan in the fight for Asian supremacy.

All eyes will be on the India-Pakistan match but there are other equally exciting matches in the tournament which will be played in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Below is the schedule for the tournament. All matches will be shown on OSN Sports CricketHD in the UAE.

ASIA CUP 2018:

Saturday, September 15

15:30 Bangladesh v Sri Lanka, Dubai International Cricket Stadium

Sunday, September 16

15:30 Pakistan v Hong Kong, Dubai International Cricket Stadium

Monday, September 17

15:30 Sri Lanka v Afghanistan, Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi

Tuesday, September 18

15:30 India v Hong Kong, Dubai International Cricket Stadium

Wednesday, September 19

15:30 India v Pakistan, Dubai International Cricket Stadium

Thursday, September 20

15:30 Bangladesh v Afghanistan, Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi

Friday, September 21

15:30 Super Four, Dubai International Cricket Stadium

15:30 Super Four, Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi

Sunday, September 23

15:30 Super Four, Dubai International Cricket Stadium

15:30 Super Four, Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi

Tuesday, September 25

15:30 Super Four, Dubai International Cricket Stadium

Wednesday, September 26 

15:30 Super Four, Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi

Friday, September 28 

15:30 Final, Dubai International Cricket Stadium

Tickets for the tournament start at Dh35 and are on sale on dubai.platinumlist.net and all UAE Exchange outlets.

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