Dubai, UAE (21 August, 2023) The Desert Vipers have announced an impressive list of new players who will join the squad for season two of the DP World ILT20.

Coming into the line-up which finished as runners-up in the first edition of the tournament are the Pakistan trio of fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi, leg-spinning all-rounder Shadab Khan and wicketkeeper-batter Azam Khan, plus Scotland batter Michael Jones, Dutch all-rounder Bas de Leede, and English batter Adam Hose.

Explaining the overall goal behind these signings, Director of Cricket Tom Moody said: “We are certainly looking at all our options to continue to build the strongest squad we possibly can, but more importantly to build a team that is not only going to take it one step further in 2024 and not only play in a final but win a final.

“We are also looking to build a squad that our growing fan-base is going to look forward to supporting. The more support we have on the other side of the fence the greater the heights the team can reach.”

In addition to the already-announced superstar bowler from Pakistan Shaheen Shah Afridi, also making a grand entrance into the squad are a player who has led his country at the Twenty20 International level, Shadab Khan, and power-hitter Azam Khan.

Shadab Khan may be still only 24 years old, but he has already accumulated a wealth of experience at international and domestic levels, having played in Twenty20 tournaments across continents, from the Caribbean to Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

The Pakistan all-rounder has played more than 250 T20s with over 2500 runs at a strike rate of 136 and almost 300 wickets at an economy rate of 7.41. The talismanic leg-spinner became the first Pakistan men’s cricketer to take 100 T20I wickets for his country earlier this year.

He was also the joint-highest wicket-taker for finalists Pakistan (along with Shaheen Shah Afridi) at the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia last year, capturing 11 wickets. Add to that his Asia Cup experience in the UAE last year, where he took eight wickets in five matches to help steer Pakistan to the final (they lost in that final to Sri Lanka), and it is no surprise he has been on the Desert Vipers' radar.

Tom Moody said: “Shadab is certainly a great package and a genuine all-rounder, someone who can bat in the top six and have an impact. With his leg-spin, he is very creative in what he does there. From a skill point of view, he is complete, and on top of that, he has got a growing reputation as a respected leader.”

Shadab Khan’s latest action has been for Birmingham Phoenix in The Hundred in the UK.

Azam Khan, son of former Pakistan captain Moin Khan, was most recently seen in action in Canada in the Canadian T20 League for the Panthers. Azam finished as the side’s leading run-scorer, with 179 runs at a strike rate of 135.6.

Apart from Canada, the wicketkeeper-batter also has abundant experience across T20 leagues in the Caribbean (CPL), Bangladesh (BPL), Sri Lanka (LPL), and Pakistan (PSL). Azam has played more than 100 T20s and has topped 2000 runs with one hundred and a strike rate of 142.44, including a whopping 139 sixes.  His most recent UAE experience came earlier this year in March, when he played the latest of his five T20Is, against Afghanistan in Sharjah.

Azam said he was delighted to be joining the Vipers: “I am very excited to announce I am joining the Desert Vipers in the ILT20 for the upcoming season. The UAE fans are crazy about cricket and last season the atmosphere was amazing. I am looking forward to this season and hoping to put on some good performances in the tournament.”

Tom Moody said Azam Khan could be a player for the Desert Vipers to strike fear into opposition attacks: “We are thrilled to have Azam join us because he is a real threat. We have seen his performances over recent years in franchise cricket, where he has stunned the opposition, and stunned the crowd with some of his performances with the bat.

“He is a genuine power-hitter that can take the game in a breath-taking way away from the opposition. We look forward to having him as an impact player in the middle-order to join the likes of Sherfane Rutherford, who has continued to show his high level of excellence in the tournament in Canada recently.”

Extraordinary talents from Associate nations have been carefully picked to bolster the side, including Scotland batter Michael Jones and Dutch all-rounder Bas de Leede.

Bas de Leede has UAE experience, having played in the Abu Dhabi T10 and also featuring in one game for the MI Emirates at the inaugural ILT20. He shot to fame for his performance in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe in July 2023 where, in a must-win match for the Netherlands, he took 5-52 and then scored 123 from just 92 deliveries to pilot his side to a place at the Cricket World Cup in India.

Bas de Leede is thrilled with the inclusion and said: “I am really excited to have signed with the Desert Vipers for the ILT20. It is a great group of players, who have come so close to winning the competition last year(season). I am really looking forward to joining up with that squad and bringing home some silverware this season.”

Tom Moody said he hoped the Desert Vipers environment would take de Leede to the next stage of his career: “He is a player on the rise and an exciting all-round talent. He is at the beginning of this journey, and he had a good time recently in the qualifiers in Zimbabwe and performed well with both the bat and ball, and he has also had a bit of exposure in franchise cricket.

“We feel he is going to add an enormous amount of value for us as a very exciting all-round talent. Hopefully, we can play a role in his journey as a young, emerging all-rounder on the world stage.”

Michael Jones has played 12 ODIs and four T20Is for Scotland and is no stranger to the UAE as he made his ODI debut for Scotland at the ICC Academy in Dubai in January 2018, scoring 87 as he opened the batting against Ireland.

Jones featured for Scotland in all their matches in the 2022 ICC T20 World Cup in Australia and made 110 runs in three matches against West Indies, Ireland, and Zimbabwe.

More recently as a member of the Durham side, he played all 14 of the team’s T20 Blast matches in 2023 and scored 331 runs at a strike-rate of 130.31.

Michael Jones spoke about how he felt about being picked by the Desert Vipers: “I am really excited to be linking up with the Desert Vipers. I have heard such great things about the tournament, and I know that we have such a great team led by Colin Munro, and coaches James Foster and Tom Moody.

“I made my debut for Scotland in the UAE, so I am familiar with conditions, and I really can’t wait to get going.”

Tom Moody said he was excited to welcome Jones into the squad: “He (Michael Jones) was a real standout Associate player that has performed really well when given an opportunity.

“He is a free-flowing run scorer and an impact-type player who has got a strong base to his game,  a strong technique. We look forward to helping him develop his game and be a part of his journey.”

The Associates are joined by the highly regarded English batter Adam Hose.

Speaking about linking up with the team next year, Adam Hose said: “I am really excited about joining the Desert Vipers for the next edition of the ILT20.

“We have got a fantastic list of players and coaches and I am really excited about joining with everyone in January. I know they came runners-up last year but hopefully, we can go one step better.”

In more than 120 T20 matches Adam Hose has scored over 3000 runs, with two hundreds and a strike-rate of 144. His global experience of T20 cricket extends to New Zealand, Australia, and the Caribbean. 

Hose also has significant UAE experience having played in the Abu Dhabi T10 2021 with the Bangla Tigers and in 2022 with the Northern Warriors alongside fellow Desert Viper Sherfane Rutherford.

Most importantly, the Worcestershire batter, whose latest action has been for the Northern Superchargers (alongside Bas de Leede) in The Hundred in the UK, played in the inaugural ILT20 as a member of the Sharjah Warriors squad in 2023, taking part in three matches, including one versus the Desert Vipers in Sharjah (where he made 17 in 17 balls).

All of the above made him a great selection for the Desert Vipers according to Tom Moody: “Adam Hose really stood out as a player who has an all-round game, and one of those players who can come in and impact the game immediately,” he said.

“He is tall and a very good player of spin both down the ground and square of the wicket. Adam is a threat and one of those players whose game has come a long way over the last couple of years, and I still feel in the next couple of years he has got equal growth in his game too.

“Hopefully we can benefit as a franchise with what he can offer now which is exceptional, but also what he potentially could turn into.

“It is important that he has had exposure to how the tournament is played, the conditions in the UAE, and the three venues. Hopefully, under our guidance, he continues to thrive and develop as a player and enjoys his experience with the Desert Vipers.”

Desert Vipers Captain Colin Munro commented on the new additions to the side: “I am really happy with the new players we have bought to supplement our retained players from last year,” he said.

“It is very exciting to have the Pakistani boys Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shadab Khan, and Azam Khan. They add a real extra dimension to our squad with both bat and ball.

“Adam Hose is a very destructive middle-order player and has a wealth of county experience as well as some franchise cricket around the world.

“Welcome to our two new Associate players Michael Jones from Scotland and Bas de Leede from the Netherlands. They bring real quality and some county experience as well.

“Last year we came very close to winning the title and got pipped at the post. With the additional players that we have brought in, adding to our retained players, it puts us in a really strong position in the next edition.”

The second edition of the ILT20 is scheduled to start on 13 January 2024.

The Desert Vipers finished as runners-up in the inaugural edition of the tournament in January and February 2023.

Among the players the Desert Vipers have retained from that first edition are English opening batter Alex Hales, who scored the competition’s first-ever individual hundred and finished as its leading run-scorer, and Wanindu Hasaranga, the Sri Lanka wrist-spinner, the top wicket-taker in the past two editions of the ICC T20 World Cup.