ILT20: Shaheen Afridi and Azam Khan beat jet lag to make winning start for Desert Vipers

Last year’s runners-up avenge final defeat to Gulf Giants and claim first victory of new season inspired by Pakistani quartet

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Shaheen Afridi and Azam Khan overcame jet lag as they combined to make a winning start on their shared DP World International League T20 debuts.

The duo arrived in Dubai on Tuesday morning from Pakistan’s series loss in New Zealand. They crossed nine time zones to get here.

Azam at least managed a light training session at the ICC Academy later that day, but that was beyond fast bowler Shaheen.

He still looked shattered as he was introduced to his new teammates ahead of his debut for Desert Vipers at the Dubai International Stadium on Wednesday evening.

Despite the imperfect prep, “the Eagle” soared on his much-anticipated bow in the UAE’s franchise competition.

He took a wicket with the eighth ball he sent down, took 3-22 all in, and between innings was given the white, boxing-style belt for the leading wicket-taker in the tournament.

Azam, who took a fine running catch to dismiss Chris Lynn, then played a fine hand with the bat. The wicketkeeper hit 26 not out in 14 balls.

The pair’s contribution was crucial as the Vipers defeated Gulf Giants, the side who beat them in last year’s final, by six wickets.

The third Pakistani debutant for the Vipers, Shadab Khan, did show signs of rust. The all-rounder is returning after an ankle injury.

He might need a little extra time to get up to full speed on this evidence, after he went for 40 in four wicketless overs.

The fourth member of the Pakistan quartet, Mohammed Amir, complemented Shaheen well with the new ball. He took 1-27 from his four overs.

The Vipers' victory lifted them off the foot of the table and means five teams are now level on two points at the start of the competition.

Updated: January 24, 2024, 9:13 PM