Gulf Giants have reinforced their squad ahead of their DP World International League T20 title defence by signing the player who holds the record for the fastest Pakistan Super League century.
The champions recruited Usman Khan on Friday morning as the six franchises completed their UAE player quotas ahead of season two, which starts in January.
Thirteen players earned deals to fill the 24 spaces available for domestic players in the T20 competition.
That includes eight UAE-raised players who are under 23 years old. Among the remainder are players who are yet to feature in international competition for the country, and some of whom are yet to qualify for selection.
Usman struck the faster ton in the history of Pakistan’s T20 franchise tournament back in March. He reached the milestone in 43 balls opening the batting for Multan Sultans against Quetta Gladiators in Rawalpindi.
That innings brought him national celebrity in his country of origin, and speculation quickly gathered that he might be on the brink of Pakistan selection.
However, Usman immediately scotched that talk, saying he was committed to qualifying for his adopted country and playing for the UAE.
It had been hoped he would be available for the selection for the national team in their all-important T20 World Cup Asia Qualifier in Nepal, starting later this month.
He arrived in Dubai in October 2020, meaning he should be eligible under the ICC’s three-year residency rule.
However, there has been a debate over whether he has spent the sufficient amount of days in each of those three years in the country.
ICC rules dictate the player must spend “at least 10 months actual physical presence in the relevant country” to be considered a resident.
Usman has spent periods outside of the UAE in the past three years, playing in both the PSL and the Bangladesh Premier League.
The Emirates Cricket Board believe those absences are mitigated by the rules which state absences “to travel to another country to play cricket on behalf of their national cricket federation in an organised tour” are permissible.
He is not, though, part of the national team squad for their tri-series involving Nepal and Hong Kong in Kathmandu, or the Qualifier which follows.
Eight leading UAE quota players drafted in ILT20
Among the other new recruits for the ILT20, Asif Khan landed a deal to play with MI Emirates.
The batter stated his case in the clearest terms possible as he dominated the final phase of the ILT20 development tournament earlier this month.
He will be joined at the franchise by the established UAE stars Muhammad Waseem and Zahoor Khan, each of whom was retained from last season, and uncapped Mohammed Rohid Khan.
In Friday morning’s draft via Zoom, Abu Dhabi Knight Riders recruited Alishan Sharafu and Adithya Shetty.
Rahul Chopra, Haider Ali and Vriitya Aravind will play alongside the likes of Mark Wood and David Warner at the Dubai Capitals.
Basil Hameed and Nilansh Keswani will go to Sharjah Warriors, while Zohaib Zubair will join Usman at Gulf Giants.
Aryan Lakra and Karthik Meiyappan have been snapped up by Desert Vipers, the ILT20 runners-up in the opening season.
The former UAE U19 captain and vice-captain respectively are currently out of favour with the national team, but Phil Oliver, the Vipers chief executive, is glad to bring them to the franchise.
“I believe they are a perfect fit for the Desert Vipers and are two young players who are very much on the up,” Oliver said.
“Aryan offers us the left-arm option that we were previously lacking in the spin department and Karthik will join up with fellow leg-spinners Wanindu Hasaranga and Shadab Khan to ensure we are well catered for in that area.
“And both players will have the chance to work with our outstanding spin-bowling coach Carl Crowe who will play a big role in helping them take their games forward.
“It all adds up to an exciting time for us and an exciting time for the two young players we have drafted.”