Former India cricketer Virender Sehwag feels that the value of the upcoming ILT20, a new franchise T20 league in the UAE, will go up when big cricketers from around the world will come to play in the tournament.
"I am expecting that this league is going to be a big league because there are a lot of international players that will be participating in the ILT20 league. They will share their experience with UAE cricketers, associate or smaller team players.
So, I'm sure when a big player will come, the league's value will go up," said Sehwag on the sidelines of being a part of broadcasters ZEE's campaign for the ILT20, to be held from January 13 to February 12.
Sehwag is also excited to see what big-hitting former West Indies batter Kieron Pollard will be upto in the ILT20. Pollard, a former Mumbai Indians all-rounder, will be representing MI Emirates in the six-team tournament.
"I think it is not fair that you have to pick one (batter to watch out for). But Kieron Pollard is one, so if he plays, he will entertain for sure. Pollard has been entertaining us for the last couple of years. So, I am looking forward to seeing him."
The 34-match event will have six teams competing to win the coveted ILT20 trophy. Three out of the six teams are owned by organisations who own IPL teams like Mumbai Indians, Delhi Capitals, and Kolkata Knight Riders.
Sehwag thinks the fans in India will be able to follow ILT20 more due to certain players being part of these three sides, which happens in the IPL too. IPL regulars like Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Trent Boult, Moeen Ali and Wanindu Hasaranga will feature in the ILT20.
"I think some owners of the IPL own a team in ILT20, and they will try to buy the same foreign players. Indian players are not allowed but they will try to buy the same foreign players who play in the IPL for Mumbai, then the fans will follow them in ILT20 also."
"They know that and will wait for 10 years if the profit is good. That's why they want to buy these teams and they want to try to retain the same players in other leagues as well, so the fan does not get confused."
With the matches to be held in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah, spinners will come into play in the tournament. Sehwag, himself a part-time off-spinner in playing days, wants the young spinners in the competition to trust their abilities on the pitches which tend to be flatter in the UAE.
"I am not the right person to give advice to off-spinners but one thing I will say - trust yourself. Doesn't matter if you are off-spinner or leg spinner or left-arm spinner, trust yourself that you can make a difference."
"There are a lot of spinners -- Harbhajan Singh, Ashwin, Jadeja, Axar Patel, Rashid Khan. So, they are making a lot of difference, or they are helping their teams to win the games. The only thing you can do is trust yourself so that you can make a difference and hope that you will do better on those flat tracks."
All six teams, including Gulf Giants, Desert Vipers and Sharjah Warriors, will be playing against each other twice, with the top four making it to the playoffs which will follow the format of the IPL. Sehwag signed off by advising the young players in the competition, either from UAE or abroad, to work hard and follow their dreams in cricketing world.
"One thing I will tell is to follow your dream because I have followed my dream. So, follow your dream and work hard, everybody thought that Virender Sehwag is not thinking or is not worried but I was worried about my batting, my technique and how to score runs.
It's not easy but yes work hard and follow your dream." The tournament will be broadcasted live on ZEE's 10 linear channels in English, Hindi and Tamil languages as well as on its OTT platform ZEE5. It will also be broadcast on Zee Cinema (SD & HD), ZEE Anmol Cinema, ZEE Thirai, ZEE Bangla Cinema, ZEE Zest (SD & HD), & Pictures HD, &Flix (SD & HD) in India and globally.