Vriitya Aravind leads stellar display by next generation of UAE cricketers at Emirates D20

Alishan Sharafu and Aryan Lakra help set up 64-run win for ECB Blues against Sharjah

The depth of youthful talent in UAE cricket was underscored again in the Dream 11 Emirates D20 with a century partnership by two teenagers, and then four wickets by another who turned 19 two days earlier.

Vriitya Aravind, 18, and Alishan Sharafu, 17, put on 121 to help ECB Blues to 170-4 from their 20 overs against Sharjah in the new domestic competition.

Aryan Lakra then extended his lead at the top of the tournament’s wicket-taking charts, as he took 4-10, as the Blues cruised to a 64-run win.

The continuing success of a set of players who provided the backbone for the UAE Under 19s side at the World Cup earlier this year has been a major boost for the game here.

Aravind said he is enjoying playing senior men’s cricket in a side filled with players he has grown up with.

“It is the best feeling ever,” said Aravind, who was named player of the match for his 60-ball innings of 86.

“Me and Alishan started cricket on the same day, at the same academy, and we have grown up together.

“We have such a good understanding, we don’t even have to call a lot of the times. The way we were communicating, the hundred partnership felt so easy.

“We talked well, we ran between the wickets well, and that is a really good sign.”

The ECB side is filled with players who have represented either the UAE senior team or its age-group sides.

The young contingent could form a sizeable chunk of the national team squad when it returns to competitive action with a series against Ireland next month.

“Age is just a number,” Aravind said. “Especially for a team like UAE, it is great that youngsters are pushing in. That will help the senior players to push ahead as well.

“We have a great bunch of senior players, like Rohan [Mustafa], Ahmed [Raza], who are all so supportive to youngsters.

“From day one, they have been supporting every youngster that has come in, telling them what to do and what not to do. That has made it easier for the youngsters to start performing.”

Me and Alishan started cricket on the same day, at the same academy, and we have grown up together

The situation regarding the pandemic has meant that Aravind has spent much of the past few months in the UAE, rather than in the UK, where he moved to attend university this term.

“I didn’t want to miss the D20 because it is a good platform for us, plus there was the lockdown in the UK anyway,” Aravind said.

“I wouldn’t have played any cricket there, so I think it was best for me to come here.

“I’m not trying to think ahead too much. I’m just trying to focus on the next game.

“Everyone knows me as the guy who is consistent, but I’ve not been able to do that for the past three games.

“I managed to get runs today, and hopefully I can continue this. If I play well, I should get the rewards after, so I need to keep scoring runs.”