Colin Munro backs ‘phenomenal’ Rohan Mustafa as first ILT20 gets ready for climax

Colin Munro backs ‘phenomenal’ Rohan Mustafa as first ILT20 gets ready for climax

Colin Munro and James Vince might be vying to be the first player to hoist the DP World International League T20 trophy.

Yet the respective captains of Desert Vipers and Gulf Giants were united in their message on the eve of Sunday’s final at Dubai International Stadium, suggesting the new competition has already had a positive effect on UAE cricket.

The country’s first T20 franchise event has differed from all other major leagues around the world, given the minimal opportunities there are for local players.

With just two players per starting XI, chances have been few for the domestic players to cause an impression.

Some, though, have thrived. For example, Munro labelled the impact of Rohan Mustafa, the UAE all-rounder, on the Vipers’ march to the final as “phenomenal”.

Mustafa has been assigned a role of blazing away at the top of the batting order for the Vipers. Although he hit a lull during the middle of the campaign, he has bookended his ILT20 season with some blockbusting starts.

Munro has also been glad of the overs Mustafa can be called upon to bowl his off spin.

“Even his bowling has gone from strength to strength,” Munro said.

“In the [Abu Dhabi] T10 he has been a lot more defensive and backs his yorkers a lot. He is more into the pitch now, and has a lot more variations up his sleeve.

“At the top of the order, he started really well, then there were three or four games where he didn’t do too well, and we were thinking of changing the combination.

“We backed him to do a job, and he has been really phenomenal for us in those last few games.”

Munro said the UAE players will have benefited from five weeks spent playing with and against some of the leading players in the sport.

However, he also intimated the tournament will benefit from a greater spread of domestic talent between all of the teams in the future.

The six franchises negotiated the recruitment of players directly ahead of this season, rather than via a draft or auction. Some sides ended up with a wealth of established domestic players, while others had to find more raw recruits.

For example, MI Emirates, who exited the competition in the final eliminator, had the core of the UAE national team as part of their squad.

Muhammad Waseem and Zahoor Khan enjoyed the majority of game time, while Vriitya Aravind and Basil Hameed – two of the leading players in the country – got just one game each.

By contrast, the Vipers have based their title bid on Mustafa, a player who was deemed unworthy of a place in the UAE squad for the T20 World Cup last year, uncapped seamer Shiraz Ahmed, plus two products of the UAE Under 19s side – Dhruv Parashar and Ali Naseer.

“Some of them have been very successful against some of the best players in the world, and they can take a lot of confidence from that,” Munro said.

“I don’t know if the best 12 or 14 players are playing in every game, so that is something the league might need to sort out next year.

“There are a few teams that have a few extra players there. Hopefully that can be addressed next year.

“In terms of the tournament, it has been wonderful. It has showcased great cricket, both with local players and wonderful overseas players.”

The Giants, by comparison, have almost exclusively used 17-year-old all-rounder Aayan Khan, and 21-year-old seamer Sanchit Sharma.

“It has been a learning curve for them,” Vince, the Giants captain, said.

“They have experienced some success in the competition, and it has also highlighted some areas where they can go away and work on their games.

“Without them being in this position, being up against the sort of players they have been up against, they might not have found that out about themselves.”

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