Asif Khan leaves ILT20 franchises in no doubt as he dominates development event finale

UAE batter hits 82 per cent of his side’s total as Braves claim first title to stake a claim for a place in main event in January

Asif Khan drives during his match winning innings in the final of the ILT20 development tournament in Dubai. Photo: ECB
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Come-and-get-me pleas do not come any more emphatic.

Asif Khan must have been wondering how he had been overlooked by the six DP World International League T20 franchises so far anyway.

After all, he does hold the record for the fastest century by an associate cricketer in one-day internationals.

He is also renowned as one of the most dynamic power hitters UAE domestic cricket has seen, having hit – by his estimation – around 25,000 runs over the course of seven years here.

Then, in the final two evenings of the ILT20 development tournament in Dubai, he made it as clear as possible.

On Monday he played his side, the Braves, into the final with a clinical, 50-ball innings of 73.

The following night, while a band played and guests dined at a gala dinner pitch side at the ICC Academy, he was just extraordinary.

The Braves only required 115 to win the tournament against a Blitzers side who have been suffering an availability crisis.

With such a meagre target he might have feared he had too few runs to cause an impression, on the last chance everyone had to advertise themselves to the main ILT20 franchises.

But this is Asif Khan. The chase was all about him as he smashed 96 not out in 47 balls to hurry his side to a nine-wicket win with just under eight overs to spare.

He was involved in a 46-run partnership for the first wicket and an unbroken one worth 71 for the second. His batting partners contributed nine and seven respectively. His haul was 82 per cent of his team’s total.

At least Ryan ten Doeschate was taking note. The former Kolkata Knight Riders and Netherlands all-rounder attended the whole tournament in his role as a talent scout.

While there was plenty of talent to be scouted, it was clear who shone the brightest.

“Inshallah I am very hopeful [of getting picked for the ILT20] having been the best batsman in this tournament,” Asif said.

“Maybe I will be a draft pick, let’s see. Three or four teams have contacted me but I would be very happy to play for any team.

“My favourite player is Andre Russell [of Abu Dhabi Knight Riders]. He is a big hitter of the ball and that is why. He is a strong man who can smash the ball out of the park.”

The 90 players who were involved in the development tournament were competing for the remaining 13 places on offer for domestic players for season two of the ILT20, which will start in January.

The six franchises will make their selections via a version of a draft system. Players will be able to choose which price band they are entered in at, with three salaries on offer. They are $40,000, $20,000 and $10,000.

Not all the players involved in the development tournament are UAE qualified yet. Some have only lived in the country for just over a year, and thus have some time to go until they are eligible to represent the national team via the ICC’s three-year residency qualification.

However, a criteria of their participation – and, subsequently, as a domestic player in the ILT20 – is they declared their intention to represent the UAE in future.

Asif himself has been playing for the national team since March 2022 and he believes the development tournament was of great value for the game here.

“We have seen a lot of new players coming through like [his Braves teammates] Haider Ali and Abdul Ghaffar,” Asif said.

“It has also been good competition for the national team players who will be part of the squad for the T20 World Cup Asia Qualifier [in Nepal, starting at the end of this month].”

Updated: October 11, 2023, 9:27 AM