ILT20: Shaheen Afridi, David Warner and other players to watch this year

Second edition of league will have some exciting new names and rules

Pakistan's Shaheen Afridi will be one of the star attractions at ILT20 this year. AP
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The DP World International League T20 is back for a second season and there are plenty of reasons to be excited about.

Firstly, Pakistan's top T20 stars will be seen in action this year, which promises to raise the number of spectators and quality of cricket. On the field, teams will be allowed to substitute one player at any stage of the match, which will add another dimension to an already exciting format.

The stakes will be higher this time as the T20 league has been awarded official status, which means its stats will be added to cricket's record books.

This is the first big franchise tournament of the year, leading up to the T20 World Cup in June, providing a crucial platform for players to stake their claim for a spot in the showpiece event and for national teams to scout in-form players.

The tournament begins on January 19 with six teams – Abu Dhabi Knight Riders, Gulf Giants, Desert Vipers, MI Emirates, Dubai Capitals and Sharjah Warriors – competing for the crown.

For fans, the presence of star names is more than enough to tune in. Here, we take a look at five players to watch out for during ILT20 2024.

Shaheen Afridi

The left-arm pacer leads a stellar list of Pakistan players in the second edition of the ILT20, highlighting the rise in profile of the tournament with the addition of one of the most sought-after 20-over stars.

Afridi signalled a significant shift in the cricketing landscape this year when he was 'rested' by Pakistan for the third Test in Australia to remain fresh for T20 assignments against New Zealand, the ILT20 and Pakistan Super League.

Afridi has been signed by Desert Vipers and should be available for around half a dozen games, which should be enough to leave a lasting impression. A new era in cricket, literally, begins with Afridi in ILT20 2024.

Wanindu Hasaranga

The Sri Lankan spin ace missed a significant part of 2023, including the ODI World Cup in India, due to a hamstring injury and has been slowly working his way back to full fitness.

Hasaranga, who will turn out for the Desert Vipers, was recently named Sri Lanka’s T20 captain. If the 26-year-old can maintain his fitness, this could be a path-breaking year as not only are there a host of league assignments lined up, but also the T20 World Cup in the Caribbean and US in the summer.

David Warner

The star Australian batsman bowed out of Test cricket in style, finishing as the second-highest run getter during the recent 3-0 series win over Pakistan. The left-handed batsman also revealed he has retired from ODI cricket, which means his focus will now solely be on T20 cricket and franchise tournaments.

And what better way to start the new innings than as captain of the Dubai Capitals. With no other commitments apart from franchise cricket, for now, expect Warner to play with complete freedom.

Aayan Khan

The UAE youngster is going places. The all-rounder guided the national team to the final of the U19 Asia Cup, and right after that, helped the senior team push a strong Afghanistan all the way in the recently concluded T20 series.

One of the most exciting spin-bowling all-rounders in Associate cricket, the 18-year-old looks set to take his game to the next level and the Gulf Giants will be hoping it happens this season.

Andre Russell

The all-rounder returned to the West Indies T20 side after a gap of two years late last year and promised to be in the best shape of his life as he targets glory at the home T20 World Cup in June.

That means Russell will be looking to hit the ground running with Abu Dhabi Knight Riders. Prepare for some serious fireworks from the Caribbean powerhouse.

Updated: January 12, 2024, 8:17 AM