Abu Dhabi T10: UAE's Rohan Mustafa excited to share the crease with West Indies star Chris Gayle

One of the biggest stars of T20 cricket has been drafted as Team Abu Dhabi's 'icon player' for the fourth edition of the T10 tournament

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - December 07, 2020: Cricket. Fujairah's Rohan Mustafa bats in the game between Dubai and Fujairah in the Emirates D20. Monday, December 7th, 2020 in Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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Rohan Mustafa has collected more than a fair share of cricket memories over his career and now the former UAE captain is hoping to create another one by sharing the crease with West Indies star Chris Gayle at the Abu Dhabi T10.

Gayle, 41, will be a teammate of Mustafa's after being selected as the 'icon player' for Team Abu Dhabi for the fourth staging of the T10 tournament taking place January 28 to February 6 at Zayed Cricket stadium.

"I'm very excited to be part of the team that includes Chris Gayle but I'll have to wait and see whether I get that opportunity to share the crease with him," Mustafa, 32, told The National.

“There are many good top order batters in the team and let’s see if I am fortunate enough to get that opportunity. If I do, it will obviously be a moment that I’ll cherish in my cricket’s golden memories.

“Gayle is one of the best players in the T20 format and I believe he can be as good as he is in the T10. For me, it will be a unique opportunity to share the dressing room with such a cricket icon.

“I’m certainly looking forward to that opportunity and also to learn a thing or two from his experience.

“There are lot of up-coming competitions to play for the UAE, and if I learn a trick or two I would certainly pass that down the line for the benefit of those in my team.”

Mustafa will be the most experienced local player having played in all four Abu Dhabi T10 editions. He was a member of the inaugural T10 winners, Kerala Kings, and played for Rajput in the second edition before being drafted into Team Abu Dhabi last year.

Mustafa’s local knowledge could also be another plus for Team Abu Dhabi coach Dougie Brown, who was in charge of the UAE national team for more than three years until February.

“I have already spoken to the coach and plan to travel early to Abu Dhabi for a practice sessions, particularly on my bowling,” Mustafa said.

“Last year, I couldn’t do well with the bat but I did well with my bowling. I have developed the Yorker, that’s very effective in the shorter format, and I’ll be working with the coach to develop those skills further.”

Chris Gayle of Kings XI Punjab plays a shot during match 53 of season 13 of the Dream 11 Indian Premier League (IPL) between the Chennai Super Kings and the Kings XI Punjab at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi  in the United Arab Emirates on the 1st November 2020.  Photo by: Pankaj Nangia  / Sportzpics for BCCI
Chris Gayle was in the UAE this Autumn competing in the IPL for Kings XI Punjab. Sportzpics for BCCI

A dashing left-handed batsman, Mustafa has excelled in both batting and bowling for the national team. He bowls right-arm off-breaks and now varies it with his cutters, swing and Yorker.

Joining Mustafa as the other local signing in the franchise is the leg spinner Karthik Meiyappan.

Meiyappan, 20, has had a unique experience in the past three months. He spent two months with Indian Premier League side Royal Challengers Bangalore and now gets to share the dressing room with Gayle and more international stars.

A couple of young prospects from the UAE drafted in the franchises are wicketkeeper Vritya Aravind, for Pune Devils, and all-rounder Aryan Lakra for Bangla Tigers.