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Alishan Sharafu repaying Abu Dhabi Knight Riders' faith in breakout season

Being compared to Sachin Tendulkar online. Punching gloves with a World Cup-winning batter in recognition of a half-century stand. Savaging a bowling attack including Shaheen Afridi and a load of other gilded names besides.

And now, an eliminator play-off final to look forward to after playing a key role in his side finishing in the top two in the table.

Like pretty much everyone else in a triumphant second season of the DP World International League T20, it is fair to say Alishan Sharafu is enjoying himself more than first time round.

The UAE batter played a bit part for Sharjah Warriors in the tepid opening edition of the country’s franchise T20 event a year ago.

This time around he has been one of the central figures in the revival of one of franchise cricket world’s most omnipresent multinationals.

Abu Dhabi Knight Riders were woeful last year, as they flounced to the bottom of the ILT20 table. They have been much improved this time around, and are now two wins away from the final.

If they are to add a UAE title to those the Knight Riders have racked up from India to the Caribbean, then Sharafu’s contribution will have been vital.

It has been a breakout tournament for a batter who has been waiting to happen at the top level for the best part of four years now. Which feels remarkable to say, given he only turned 21 last month.

Sharafu was the third youngest player to debut for the UAE men's side when he made his international bow in 2020 just a month after his 17th birthday.

He has been in and out of the national team in the time since, without nailing down a role fully befitting his talent.

In this ILT20 he has excelled at the top of the Knight Riders batting order. He is grateful the