Ali bags coveted best all-rounder award in Kerala Premier Le


Staff member
Dubai: UAE all-rounder Arshad Ali stood out amidst all the international stars that played in the Kerala Premier League (KPL) to bag the most coveted Best All-rounder of the Tournament award.

He played a pivotal role in Dunes Cusine Kannur Veerans emerging as the champions of the tournament with the bat, providing brilliant starts as an opener and taking vital wickets to check the run flow of the opponents.

He also displayed his agility as a fine fielder. Incidentally, he took two well judged catches in the final against Wayanad Highlanders to tilt the match in Kannur's favour apart from taking two wickets.

"This is my second award this season in a Twenty20 tournament, having bagged the player of the tournament award in the Arabian League T20 event too. I want to always give my best in all forms of the game and I am happy that I am improving as an effective Twenty20 player too," Ali told Gulf News.

Ali has been bagging the Best Cricketer award ever since his arrival to the UAE from Pakistan's Sialkot in 1996. "I have only one aim and that is to give my best in every match, whether playing for my employers Emirates airline, [the] UAE national team or for any domestic club," he said.

"Six times I have won the Shyam Bhatia award for the best cricketer of the year and I want to help all the teams that I play for to win matches," added Ali, who learnt the basics of the game from his elder brother Shafiq Ahmad, who is now one of the leading coaches in the UAE.

Ahmad, like Ali was a huge performer in domestic cricket in the '90s and hit 45 centuries in a span of 13 years.

"Initially I concentrated only on my batting. Today I feel much more useful and effective as a player having strengthened my bowling too. I bowl leg-spin and have been sharpening it with long hours at the nets," he said.

"I have modelled my bowling like Shahid Afridi and Anil Kumble. In fact, I got a lot of tips from Afridi who once came to play for Emirates in a tournament. He taught me how to use the fingers and where to bowl to get wickets," he added.

"I have now over 40 wickets in first class cricket and my best match spell came recently in the final of the Intercontinental Cup against Afghanistan when I picked nine wickets to win the the man of the match award," said Ali, whose consistent batting made him win the sobriquet ‘Desert Sachin Tendulkar'.

"Frankly I don't like to be compared with such a great player. I haven't achieved so much to deserve that nickname," he said

However, Ali has achieved a lot and is undoubtedly one of the best players among associate and affiliate nations.

He is the first UAE batsman to score 1,000 runs in first class cricket.

Employer's backing

"I am happy that today I have scored over 1,600 runs and hit four centuries and eight half centuries in first class cricket. All this has been possible due to the backing from my employers Emirates, especially Maurice Flanagan, the vice-chairman of our airline who encourages cricket a lot."

Ali is not bothered about milestones.

"What has always pleased me is the fact that through my knocks and, recently, through my bowling, [the] UAE has been able to keep winning. I also make sure to work on my fitness [and] that has helped me improve my fielding too," said Ali, who once smashed an unbeaten 213 against Brunei in the opening match of the ACC Trophy 2006.

His best bowling in a One-day match is his seven wicket haul in Namibia against Denmark in 2008.

Talking about winning the KPL's best all-rounder award, he said: "This is the best tournament I have ever played in domestic cricket... I am so happy that I could dismiss Afghanistan's star player Mohammad Nabi twice and also Sri Lanka's Dilhara Lokuhettige who was the highest scorer in the tournament."