Virender Sehwag has hinted that UAE players could figure in his thinking when the next Indian Premier League (IPL) auction happens, after seeing them play at the T10 League in Sharjah.
Sehwag was named as the Maratha Arabians captain for the competition, but only played a bit-part role in the event.
The 39-year-old former India opener has not played since the Masters Champions League in the UAE at the start of 2016, and is officially retired.
In the two matches he played in the T10 League, he was out first ball – the third victim of Shahid Afridi’s opening-day hat-trick – and then did not bat in the other.
He subsequently succumbed to a back injury, while his side themselves fell at the semi-final stage, under the captaincy of Pakistan bowler Imad Wasim.
Sehwag did, however, deem his trip to the UAE a successful mission. He said he has fond memories of international cricket in Sharjah, while this event has also doubled as a scouting mission for him.
Sehwag is the team mentor for Kings XI Punjab in the IPL, and he intimated that he might have discovered a few potential bargains during his week in Sharjah.
“Players from UAE and Afghanistan are playing in this league,” Sehwag said. “As a mentor in the IPL, I have watched a lot of players, and when it comes to auction in the IPL, I will know the players who have the capability to score runs or take wickets.”
There has been a provision in this competition for at least one place in each starting line-up – apart from that of Team Sri Lanka Cricket – must be filled by a UAE player.
The impact made by players from the national team has, in fact, been relatively limited during the 10-over tournament, other than for a few standout moments.
Mohammed Naveed, the spearhead of the national team’s pace attack, hit a six to win a game for Bengal Tigers on Friday. He then took the prized wicket of Shahid Afridi on Day 3, snapping the middle stump in two pieces in the process.
Zahoor Khan, another pace bowler who returned the best ODI bowling figures in UAE cricket history in a match against Ireland earlier this year, also took the wicket of Eoin Morgan.
Rohan Mustafa hit the winning runs for Kerala Kings against Maratha Arabians in the semi-final.
Elsewhere, Saqlain Haidar was outstanding with the wicketkeeping gloves for Pakhtoons, while Ghulam Shabber actually lost his place behind the stumps for Punjabi Legends to Luke Ronchi.
Each would like to follow the example set by UAE opener Chirag Suri who made it onto the squad of Gujarat Lions at this year's IPL.
Whether they would, in practice, be able to make it to the IPL is muddied by the fact that each of them is a Pakistani-passport holder.
Sehwag also said he believes T10 cricket “is the way forward”, although he is not certain everywhere will take to it in quite the same way Sharjah has. Finals night of the first T10 League has been a sell-out, as was Friday.
“You can’t play T10 everywhere in the world,” Sehwag said. “This is the first league. In coming year, maybe [elsewhere], you never know.”