Anticipation is mounting in Dubai where the UAE men’s cricket team will play New Zealand in a three-match T20 series on Aug. 17, 19 and 20.
New Zealand’s team will then travel to England for a four-match T20I series in late August and early September.
Their squad in the UAE contains a number of new faces, including two potential debutants in all-rounder Dean Foxcroft and leg spinner Adi Ashok. Both of them have shown impressive form in domestic cricket and for New Zealand’s A team.
A more familiar face, that of pace bowler Kyle Jamieson, returns to international cricket after over a year’s gap following a serious back injury.
Foxcroft was born in South Africa but, in 2016, moved to New Zealand, for whom he is now qualified to play having received eligibility approval from the International Cricket Council under its “exceptional circumstances” criteria.
Ashok is four years younger than Foxcroft. He was born in Tamil Nadu, India, in 2002, but moved with his Indian parents to New Zealand in 2006. He was named in New Zealand’s Under-19 A team in 2020 and was called up to the A team in March 2023. This season he has been playing club cricket in England.
Another young player with a promising future is Rachin Ravindra. Born in Wellington, New Zealand, to Indian parents in 1991, he made his international debut in September 2021, against Bangladesh in a T20I. This was followed by his Test debut in November 2021 against India.
Ravindra is a left-handed batter, who also bowls slow left-arm. During an interview on departure from New Zealand at Christchurch Airport, courtesy of New Zealand Cricket, he referred to previous experiences of playing in Dubai and noted that the wickets were good for batting, with a bit of grip for the slower bowlers.
The series provides an opportunity for the New Zealanders to adapt to wickets and play in hotter conditions.
NZC’s chief executive remarked that “in terms of the global cricket family, it’s important we keep helping each other, and growing the game on an international scale.”
Emirates Cricket Board’s General Secretary Mubashshir Usmani said that the series presents “an exciting opportunity for cricket fans to see New Zealand stars in action against our players.”
He added: “The series will be another learning opportunity for UAE against a top-quality team which boasts some of the top stars of the game.”
The UAE team will be led by Muhammad Waseem for the first time in T20I format. In a previous T20 series against Afghanistan, he scored 199 runs at an average of 66.33 as the UAE were narrowly defeated 2-1.
Looking further ahead, news has broken that Pakistani superstar Shaheen Shah Afridi has been signed by the Desert Vipers for the second season of DP World ILT20.
Fast bowler Afridi has taken 229 wickets in 161 T20s. He was awarded the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy as ICC Player of the Year in 2022.
Afridi is an exciting signing, adding both value and quality. He will join the only franchise which is not owned by Indian interests. The Desert Vipers are owned by Manchester United’s owners, the Glazer family, via Lancer Capital. It seems that they aim to go better than last year’s finish as finalists.
DP World ILT20 2024 is shaping up to be a contest not to be missed.