UAE stars from DP WORLD ILT20 help national side qualify for Asia Cup 2025

  • The UAE cricket team qualified for the 2025 Asia Cup, a tournament they will be participating in after nine long years, following a 55-run win over Oman in the ACC Men’s Premier Cup final on Sunday. Their victory was backed by stupendous performances from skipper Muhammad Waseem as well as young batter Alishan Sharafu before pacer Junaid Siddique, in the company of Aayan Afzal Khan, led the bowling attack to help UAE win the final comfortably. 
  • Muhammad Waseem scored a blistering 56-ball-century and was well supported by his opening partner Alishan Sharafu who contributed 34 to their opening stand of 94 runs. After putting up 204 on the board, Junaid Siddique picked up three wickets for 38 runs in his four overs while Aayan Afzal Khan finished with figures of two for 29 to restrict Oman to 149-9 in their 20 overs, as they went on to avenge their defeat to Oman earlier in the tournament.
  • The 21-year-old Alishan Sharafu, who ended up as the highest run getter of the tournament with 278 runs in six innings, continued his fine form from the DP World ILT20 earlier this year where he played an important role in Sharjah Warriors’ qualification into the play-offs. Striking at 163.52, with a top score of 90* in UAE’s first game against Kuwait, Sharafu made full use of his opportunity with the UAE senior team to leave a mark at the international level during the ACC Premier Cup and help his team seal a spot in the 2025 Asia Cup. “This was a fantastic team effort and I am happy I could contribute with the bat. I was carrying a lot of confidence from my stint in the DP World ILT20 where I batted against some of the best bowlers in world cricket. I think for many of us in the team, this exposure was instrumental and we have been doing well under our new coach Lalchand Rajput,” stated Sharafu.  
  • Captain of the UAE team, Muhammad Waseem ended the ACC Premier Cup just nine runs behind his opening partner, leading his team by example. It hasn’t been too long since Waseem lit up the DP World ILT20 2024, where he set the tone at the top for his team, the MI Emirates, who won the championship. The powerful 30-year-old opener has made a habit of taking the attack to the opposition in the Finals of tournaments. A 24-ball-43 in the DP World ILT20 Final against Dubai Capitals earlier this year and now a century while steering his team to a huge total in the ACC Premier Cup Final proved that Waseem is a big-match player. “It feels incredible to make the Asia Cup. This is the first time in nearly a decade that UAE will be playing this prestigious tournament and the team is ecstatic,” expressed Waseem. 

“Definitely the exposure we gained during the DP World ILT20 was instrumental in our performance. Playing alongside the best cricketers in the world is a big factor in improving our individual performances as well as a team. I think we are adapting to playing under pressure very well after our experience in these leagues,” added Waseem who was the recipient of the Blue Belt awarded to most outstanding player from UAE at the DP World ILT20. 

  • Impressive at the ACC Premier Cup was another youngster who turned heads at the DP World ILT20 2024 while representing the Gulf Giants. Left-arm spinner Aayan Afzal Khan continued to spin webs around the batters as he consistently picked up wickets for the UAE senior team including figures of two for 29 in the all-important final against Oman. With ten wickets in six innings, Aayan picked up ten wickets to finish as his team’s highest wicket taker as well as the second highest wicket taker of the tournament overall. Displaying maturity with his variations and when he used them, Aayan’s performances were prominent in UAE’s confirmation of a spot in the 2025 Asia Cup.
  • “I have gained a lot of confidence after my recent experience at the DP World ILT20 where I got to watch and learn from some of the best bowlers in the world. For a youngster like me, exposure like this definitely helps in improving my own performance. I am very happy that I was able to contribute to my team’s success in ACC Premier Cup and we are now looking forward to a good show in Asia Cup,” stated Aayan. 
  • Junaid Siddique picked up six wickets in the five games he played for UAE and was their best bowler in the ACC Premier Cup final. Although the pacer didn’t get too much playing time in the DP World ILT20 2024 for the Sharjah Warriors, sharing the dressing room with international stars like Chris Woakes and Daniel Sams certainly provided him with the much-needed experience that was there for everyone to see in the ACC Premier Cup final. “Though I did not get too many matches at the DP World ILT20 this year, sharing the dressing room with some of the cricket greats and watching them closely did help me. I am motivated even more to perform well for UAE and showcase my potential. I am really happy I could do well for the team and look forward to more such performances,” Junaid said. 
  • Pacer-all rounder Ali Naseer, who played for the Desert Vipers in DP World ILT20 2024 and can be remembered for his stunning catch to dismiss Nicholas Pooran, was another UAE cricketer who had a decent outing in the ACC Premier Cup picking up seven wickets from the six games he played with best figures of three for 26 coming against Kuwait.
  • While how they square up against the best teams in the continent is to be seen, the DP World ILT20’s role in developing UAE cricket is certainly justified with the national side’s qualification in to the Asia Cup after nearly a decade.

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