Muhammad Waseem leads the charge for UAE players at ILT20

MI Emirates batsman hopes second season proves to be as successful as 2023

Muhammad Waseem was one of the standout performers for MI Emirates during last year's DP World ILT20. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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UAE captain Muhammad Waseem has a lot to look forward to at the DP World International League T20, which begins in Sharjah on Friday.

Just don’t talk about the T20 World Cup later in the year, for which the national team failed to qualify, and which is “too painful” a topic to discuss.

This year, every T20 assignment is more or less geared towards the showpiece event in the Caribbean and the US this summer, with many international players hoping to impress their respective selectors at every opportunity that comes their way.

But for Waseem and his UAE teammates, it will be about continuing the hard work that was put in during the inaugural season.

Waseem was the fourth-highest run scorer in ILT20 2023, playing for MI Emirates, with three fifties.

It was a sign of things to come from Waseem as he finished the calendar year as the only player with more than 100 sixes in international cricket.

And while there was to be no World Cup for UAE, the national team did put up a brave fight in the recently concluded T20 series against Afghanistan, taking a win off their opponents and pushing the visitors all the way in the decider.

All of which fills Waseem with hope of more success with MI Emirates in the second season of ILT20.

“It is an honour for me to play for a team like MI, it is a big franchise that everyone wants to play for. I learnt a lot from a legend like Kieron Pollard and have applied that to my UAE captaincy as well,” Waseem says.

“And to be honest, after we finished the ILT20, I got interest from other leagues well.”

ILT20 2023 team of the tournament

Attracting the attention of other leagues will be on the radar of many UAE players, for whom the ILT20 is the perfect platform to mix with the best and show the world what they are made of.

Waseem has high hopes of two players, especially, from the UAE squad – franchise mate Asif Khan and Sharjah Warriors pacer Muhammad Jawadullah.

There are other UAE names as well waiting to take centre stage. Teenage all-rounder Aayan Khan, with Gulf Giants, is seen as the future of cricket here and will be joined by batsman Usman Khan, who is aiming to be eligible for UAE.

Waseem will hope to make his mark under new leadership at MI Emirates. Former UAE coach Robin Singh has taken over as head coach of the franchise, while Caribbean star Nicholas Pooran takes over the captaincy from Kieron Pollard.

“I have played with Robin sir for two to three years. He has done a lot for me, and now he is our coach. I played under Pooran a few years back in T10 at Northern Warriors. In MLC [Major League Cricket in the US], his team [MI New York] were champions. I hope he does well,” Waseem adds.

Updated: January 19, 2024, 3:34 AM