Desert Vipers’ Pakistani contingent is now complete with pace maestro Shaheen Shah Afridi and wicketkeeper Azam Khan landing in Dubai early on Tuesday morning to join Shadab Khan and Mohammad Amir and the rest of the Vipers squad in Dubai.
And when Amir and Shadab spoke with the Vipers Voices podcast, they were clear on what attracted them to play in the DP World ILT20.
“I think this is the toughest competition because in other leagues across the globe, you have more local players than international players,” said Shadab.
“But in this league, you have nine international players so this means, in reality, you are playing an international game. It is very difficult so, competition-wise, this is really tough and you are playing against the best of the world.”
Amir added: “As Shadab said there are nine international players competing against one another and it is fun for me and a learning process.
“You learn every single day and, in the days to come, this is going to be a tough competition. In this league, you have to be in your toes, and there is no margin of error.”
All-rounder Shadab, a genuine three-dimensional cricketer with bat, ball and in the field, has arrived with one of the hot topics of the tournament so far being the use of the Super Sub.
Some people have spoken about its introduction putting an end to all-rounders in the format as sides can now draft in an extra specialist with either bat or ball.
But Shadab said he felt there was still space for the all-rounder in Twenty20s and, if anything, it was the specialists who were in more danger of being marginalised.
“As an all-rounder, you have three chances to perform, either as a batter, a bowler or a fielder,” he said. So, I don’t think (the all-rounder is under threat).
“In fact, it is tougher on someone who is only a bowler or a batter. Mohammad Amir added: “This is why I am working on my batting!”
Amir played in the side’s opener, the six-wicket loss to the Abu Dhabi Knight Riders and he was happy to play down its significance in the overall scheme of the tournament.
“It might sound funny, but I think at the start of a tournament it is good if you lose one or two matches because you learn different things rather than if you keep winning, and then end up losing crucial games. If you lose and you learn from it then that is the most important.
“Also we have a great all-rounder now that Shadab is here, and Shaheen and Azam are here too, and now I feel our team is complete and it is going to be fun.”
Shadab joins a high-quality stable of spin talent at the Vipers and slots into a squad already boasting Sri Lanka’s T20I captain Wanindu Hasaranga and UAE international Karthik Meiyappan.
And of the prospect of working alongside Karthik Meiyappan, he said: “I have not seen him much, but I am definitely excited about playing with him and I could learn from him too because the learning process is there. (Fellow leg-spinner Wanindu) Hasaranga is on the team too, and we can all share our experiences and learn from each other too.”
The DP World ILT20 got underway in Sharjah on Friday, and the Desert Vipers’ next match is against the Gulf Giants at the Dubai International Stadium on Wednesday, 24 January.
Tickets for all Desert Vipers matches are now on sale and can be purchased via the official DP World ILT20 website or at any Virgin Megastore across the UAE.