Amjad Javed can't wait to line up with Shahid Afridi in T10 Cricket League

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Amjad Javed says it’s an “honour” to be playing alongside Shahid Afridi in next month’s T10 Cricket League and believes it is the perfect opportunity for UAE players to prove they’re worthy of playing in elite T20 competitions.

Javed, 37, was among the picks in Saturday’s draft, selected by Pakhtoon team, which will be led by Afridi for the inaugural edition at Sharjah Cricket Stadium between December 14-17.

It means Javed will be meeting Afridi for the third time in three years. The all-rounder was part of the UAE squad when in the 129-run loss to Pakistan at the 2015 World Cup, before falling to a seven-wicket defeat in the same fixture at last year’s Asia Cup.

But he is looking forward to sharing the same dressing room with the former Pakistan captain – a man he calls as his “T20 batting hero”.

“It will be an honour to play with him in the same team,” he said. “The fan following will be more of him than any of the other players. But it certainly gives us the advantage that the most popular cricketer in the T20 league is on the same side as me.

“It’s something that I’m looking forward to by playing under him. I feel lucky that he has taken me because I scored some runs and took some wickets when we played against Pakistan.”

Rubbing shoulders with the likes of Pakistan’s Fakhar Zaman and Umar Gul and other elite stars will be something new for Javed and the other UAE team-mates.

Rameez Shahzad, Mohammad Naveed (Bengal Tigers), Shareef Asadullah, Ghulam Shabbir (Punjabi Legends), Rohan Mustafa, Imran Haider (Kerala Kings), and Saqlain Haider (Pakthoon) will also be in action over the four days.

In the past, the UAE internationals have been overlooked for T20 elite competitions apart from Chirag Suri’s selection for the Gujarat Lions at this year’s IPL.

But Javed feels the T10 Cricket League could be just the event to press their case and show their potential worldwide.

“It will give us the chance to show how good we are and hopefully go and play in one of the big T20 leagues.”

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INTERVIEW: Pakistan and Bengal Tigers' captain Sarfraz Ahmed admits T10 cricket will be huge step into unknown

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2017 has been a memorable year for Sarfraz.

Pakistan‘s Sarfraz Ahmed, skipper of Bengal Tigers, says he cannot wait to test himself in the latest format at next month’s T10 Cricket League but admits the version could be his biggest challenge as both a player and captain.

The sport will enter a new era with Sarfraz among the elite players to take to the field at Sharjah Cricket Stadium between December 14-17 for the inaugural tournament. It will see them play 10-overs-a-side matches over 90 minutes.

By being given the Bengal Tigers’ armband, Sarfraz finds himself in the same role as Pakistan’s Test, ODI and T20 captain but like all of the international cricketers, will be stepping into unknown territory with the new format.

But even with 153 international caps across all three versions under his belt, Sarfraz acknowledges it will still be a challenge but one that will help raise his and his team-mates’ game.

“There are going to be challenges for me and the team,” he told Sport360 after he unveiled the team’s jersey alongside two of the team’s co-owners Anis Sajan, managing director of Danube Group and Neelesh Bhatnagar, owner of NB Venture, yesterday in Dubai.

“You see T10 cricket is a new format – not just for me but the other players as we’ve never played it before. But I will try my level best to do the best for Bengal Tigers.

“In T10, it’s the shortest format now in the game of cricket. That means that it’s going to be more faster. Previously there were Test matches over five days and then there were 50-over games. Then there were T20s.

“But now there’s even a shorter format in the T10, which is more challenging. I would say it’s going to be very fast like a computer lighting up quickly. It just means I have to be more alert as a captain and so do my players because every ball that is bowled or run that is scored is crucial. You cannot afford to be lapsing in concentration so I and my team need to be focused all the time in the game.

“But I’m very happy for this opportunity to play in this competition and very excited. Thank you to Anis bhai for giving me the chance to be part of the team and hopefully our team will do well Inshallah.”

Sarfraz assisted the team management during Sunday’s Player Draft at the Dubai Marina with the squad boasting the likes of World T20 winning captain Darren Sammy, Sunil Narine and ex-South Africa all-rounder Ryan McLaren.

In a draft that saw England’s Alex Hales, Adil Rashid and Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir among the picks, Sarfraz is pleased with his strength in depth but revealed he had identified his national team-mate all-rounder Imad Wasim as a potential signing.

“He’s a player who can bowl and bat,” he said. “In whatever team you are, you want a player who has plenty of experience of playing in the shorter formats. Unfortunately, because he’s so good it means that every team wants him but we are happy with what we have.

“We had a pre-draft before and we are happy to have got what we have. We picked some strong players and picked most of the players that we wanted.”

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Sport360's UAE Academy Award - Ashar Zuberi

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Award Winner: Ashar Zuberi

Every week, we feature a top performer from the extensive pool of cricket talent in the United Arab Emirates.

From the many blossoming cricketers in the region, we name a standout player from each round of the U-17 league organised by the Emirates Cricket Board.

CRICKETER OF THE WEEK – ASHAR ZUBERI

Ashar Zuberi is our award winner this week after his spell with the ball helped It’s Just Cricket Academy beat G-Force Academy by 39 runs on Saturday.

The right-arm medium-fast bowler took four wickets for 20 runs in a 4.4 over spell.

Batting at number six, he chipped in with a handy 27 from 25 balls.

COACH’S INSIGHT

Zuberi’s coach Brad Staddon was pleased with his performance but was quick to add that he played well in the previous week as well when he took 2/17 against Desert Cubs.

“He did well this week and also in the previous game. He has been practicing hard and bowling consistently,” Staddon said.

He also commented on the players’ team work and unity that has helped them pull off a few upsets this season.

“There’s an energy running through the team at the moment because we’re a new academy and we’re upsetting quite a few teams. All the players are backing up each other”

The whole bowling unit has been in good form, especially after dismissing Desert Cubs for 80 in their previous game.

“He [Zuberi] took four wickets but all our other bowlers were going at an economy rate of two or three. The whole bowling line-up did well and that’s why we were able to restrict them [G-Force Academy].”

ABOUT IT’S JUST CRICKET ACADEMY

It’s Just Cricket offers various types of programmes for upcoming cricketers to develop their technical skills and nurture them in order to become professionals.

The academy gives budding cricketers opportunities to play and train at the highest level which gives them exposure at some of the world’s best cricket institutes.

WHERE – Dubai College, Al Sufouh, Dubai.

CONTACT – +971 589713535

E-MAIL – [email protected]

WEBSITE – itsjustcricket.com

*Stats provided by emiratescricket.com via crichq.com

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