The UAE cricketer Chirag Suri remains the only player from his country to have been bought by an Indian Premier League (IPL) team. The opener was drafted in by the Gujarat Lions for the 2017 edition of the cash-rich league.
“It was a proud moment for me and my family when I was picked for the Lions in 2017,” Suri told Khaleej Times on Thursday
He told, “It was pretty emotional moment because I worked so hard, I had made a lot of sacrifices. It was definitely a great confidence booster when you go out there, you feel like you are among the best in the world, you know, just by watching them and learning from them. It was an amazing experience.”
The tournament was earlier scheduled to take place in March but due to COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, it didn’t take place and postponed indefinitely. With the postponement of ICC T20 World Cup 2020, the BCCI has decided to host the IPL at this window. Now, Suri is hoping that more players from the country will get the chance to play in the league.
“IPL coming here is amazing because it’s the biggest tournament in the world. It’s very exciting that the tournament will be happening here. It definitely gives a big boost to the young players here,” he said.
He again said, “It’s very motivating for the young players to see these guys who will play in the same stadiums where they play local cricket. It’s pretty amazing for the sport, it will help cricket grow here in the region.”
CTK Mashood, Director, Tellicherry Academy has also echoed Suri’s words.
“As a cricket lover and a former India first-class cricketer, it’s a great feeling that the IPL is happening here again after 2014,” Mashood said. “All the young players in the UAE would be following these matches. More than 5,000 players are playing the sport actively in the UAE. So this tournament is a huge boost for these players.”
Mashood – who was a former Kerala Ranji Trophy player himself and played against the legends like Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman in junior state-level cricket, said that exposure will help the young players of the country to grow in future as well.
“They have to play competitive cricket at a high level. Hopefully, the kids will get more opportunities to play top level tournaments in future. This will definitely help them get picked in high-profile leagues across the world,” Mashood said.
on the other hand, Presley Polonnowita, the founder and head coach of Desert Cubs Sports Academy, said, “I have seen this. The interest level of players and parents has gone up in the last four-five years and we have begun producing more players. I can see some of the UAE kids, in the future, regularly playing in some of the big leagues. I have been coaching here since 1999, but I have seen people are taking cricket much more seriously now in the last four or five years after the 2014 IPL.”