Regional cricket round-up: Perfect preparation for UAE ahead of big 2016

Denzil Pinto 21/12/2015
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The UAE are building towards crucial matches in January.

With less than four weeks to go until their next competitive game, the UAE are back in training and captain Ahmed Raza insists the month-long preparations will help the players going forward.

A preliminary 18-man squad assembled for training at ICC Academy last week ahead of the ICC Intercontinental Cup and World
Cricket League matches against the Netherlands in Abu Dhabi beginning January 21.

– AFRIDI: All-rounder snapped up in Pakistan Super League draft
– ENGLAND: Cook and Root hit tons in South Africa warm-up
– DHONI: India captain supports MCL
– MCL: Tickets go on sale for UAE showdown

With coach Aaqib Javed experimenting with a squad consisting of veterans and new boys including Laxman Sreekumar, the UAE began their preparations with a practice game against domestic side Danube Lions on Thursday.

Javed will oversee training fivetimes a week as his team bids toregister their first victory in the ICC Intercontinental Cup after two defeats to Ireland and Hong Kong. Plenty will be at stake as players look to make the final cut and Raza insists his team must make the most of this “long training period”.

“We have four weeks to go until we face the Netherlands and this is the time we need to work hard, even harder than before to make things right,” said the 27-year-old spinner.

“Four weeks is a considerable time to work on our techniques, improve our fitness and work on our tactics. The players know the
situation we are in. We haven’t had the best campaign in the Intercontinental Cup and we know we have to up our game.

“But I’m confident these training sessions will be a big help for us. At the moment, we are going through a transitional phase.

“Team work and bonding will be a big boost in terms of getting positive results. Getting back to winning ways is crucial as we don’t want the new players coming in to lose interest. We need to set a platform for UAE cricket.”

Javed added: “This training camp is very important and it will help us with our fitness and improve on our weaknesses. It’s not going to be easy but the players will give their best every day.”

Raza’s side showed their potential, taking England Lions all the way before losing the T20 three-match series 2-1 earlier this month.

One player that caught Javed’s eye is left-handed batsman Mohammad Usman. He struck a half-century during the series, and
Ahmed says he will not be surprised if Usman wears the UAE shirt again.

“I’ve been very impressed with him and I’ve known him for a quite a few years now,” said Raza. “We used to play against each other in the domestic circuit and recommended him to Aaqib, who had a look at him and showed his talent. He’s one to
look out for and I’m very positive he can score a lot of runs for the UAE if he’s given another chance.”

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Afridi Pakistan Super League first pick

Sudhir Gupta 21/12/2015
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'Boom Boom' proved he is still a big draw in Twenty20 cricket.

Pakistan Twenty20 captain Shahid Afridi was the first player to be picked in the opening round of the draft for the inaugural Pakistan Super League.

Afridi was snapped up by Peshawar Zalmi team after they traded up with Islamabad United from the third pick to select the 35-year-old all-rounder.

– ENGLAND: Cook and Root hit tons in South Africa warm-up
– DHONI: India captain supports MCL
– MCL: Tickets go on sale for UAE showdown

– #360view: India’s ageing T20I selection defies logic
– VOTE NOW: End of Year Awards 2015

In an action packed day, Afridi, Australian all-rounder Shane Watson (Islamabad United), Shoaib Malik (Karachi Kings), Kevin Pietersen (Quetta Gladiators) and Chris Gayle (Lahore Qalandars) became the first selections for their respective teams as the five icon players who carried a maximum wage of $200,000.

The PSL, which will be held in Dubai and Sharjah from February 4 to February 23 next year, opted for a draft system rather than the auctions favoured by other domestic T20 leagues including the Indian Premier League. 

Players were split into various categories with each carrying a wage limit – Platinum ($140,000), Diamond ($70,000), Gold ($50,000) and Silver ($25,000) plus one for ‘Emerging’ Pakistan players ($10,000).

There was more good news for disgraced fast bowler Mohammad Amir as he continued his reintegration into competitive cricket after being selected by Karachi Kings. Amir, who was one of 310 players open for the PSL draft, was picked by Karachi in the Gold category. However, veteran Pakistan players Younis Khan and off-spinner Saeed Ajmal went unpicked.

The other subcontinental team in the fray was Bangladesh and left-arm seamer Mustafizur Rahman, who was recently named in the ICC’s ODI Team of the Year, was taken by Lahore in the Gold category, while compatriot Tamim Iqbal was picked in the same category by Peshawar. Star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan went to Karachi as a Platinum pick.

Lahore were the only team to use up their full quota of foreign players, with Gayle, Mustafizur, Dwayne Bravo, Kevon Cooper and Cameron Delport all picked. Apart from Cooper and Delport, 33-year-old Somerset batsman Jim Allenby was the only other uncapped player to be drafted, by Peshawar in the Gold category.

Pietersen was the only England player granted Platinum status as James Anderson and Ian Bell went unselected on day one of the draft. Pietersen will share the dressing room with fellow England cap Luke Wright, who was Gladiators’ sixth pick as a Diamond player.

Meanwhile, Essex all-rounder Ravi Bopara got snapped up by the Karachi Kings.

A total of 45 players were drafted among the five franchises. The teams had to pick three players each from the Platinum, Diamond and Gold categories, with a minimum of four Pakistanis and four foreign players. 

The draft will continue today with each team allowed to choose five players from the Silver category and two from the Emerging category. Franchises have the option to increase their squad strength to 20 by selecting four suppementary players.

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India star MS Dhoni launches MCL tickets

Stuart Appleby 21/12/2015
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India limited-overs captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has launched ticket sales for the inaugural edition of the Masters Champions League (MCL) in the UAE with a special video message ahead of next year’s tournament.

– MCL: Tickets go on sale for UAE showdown
– #360view: India’s ageing T20I selection defies logic
– VOTE NOW: End of Year Awards 2015
– GALLERY: The most expensive MCL players







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