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Robin Uthappa to play for Dubai Capitals in ILT20

The league, which is sanctioned by the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) will start in January next year. Uthappa is a direct signing made by the Capitals, one of the six franchises in the ILT20

Robin Uthappa to play for Dubai Capitals in ILT20
Robin Uthappa

Former Indian batter Robin Uthappa, who announced retirement from Indian and international cricket back in September, will be featuring in the inaugural edition of the International League T20 (ILT20) and will represent Dubai Capitals. The league, which is sanctioned by the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) will start in January next year. Uthappa is a direct signing made by the Capitals, one of the six franchises in the ILT20.

The 37-year-old is one of the first high-profile Indian cricketers who retired to take up opportunities to play in overseas T20 Leagues. Uthappa said that he wanted to represent teams in such leagues even while playing domestic cricket in his country and IPL, but could not do so under the rules of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). But his retirement will now allow him to play in leagues like The Hundred, Big Bash League and Caribbean Premier League, in which he is keen to play.

"It is something I wanted to do [play in overseas T20 leagues]. Now that I have retired it gives me the opportunity," Uthappa told ESPNcricinfo. "I consider myself a student of the game. So I will only be enriching my own knowledge and experience and information about the game when I go and play in different conditions in the world. Tomorrow if I want to be a coach, I should have some kind of stand when I am having a conversation with the lads. I believe all these experiences will add value to that."

"Basically, it has got to do with growing a lot more as a cricketer. Since I have not had the opportunities in the last few years to go outside of India and play in different conditions. I am hoping I will [now] to be able to go to different parts of the world and play the leagues, not just Dubai, even outside the subcontinent - hopefully South Africa next year, England (The Hundred), Australia (BBL) and the Caribbean (CPL). It gives me the access to improve myself, even try to grow my horizons as a human being as well, experience different cultures, places and people. All that will only add to my values as far as cricket is concerned irrespective of what I decide to do later on." The batter has played 46 ODIs and 13 T20Is for India in a career that stretched from 2006 to 2015. He was also an integral part of the Indian Premier League (IPL), playing for six different teams across 15 seasons.

He also enjoyed a late-career flourish with Chennai Super Kings, guiding them to the title with his 44-ball 63 in the first qualifier and then a 15-ball 31 in the summit clash. He scored two fifties in five innings at the start of his 2022 season, but his form waned as the season progressed. He could not touch double digits in five out of his last six innings that season. BCCI has not permitted active Indian players to play in franchise leagues other than the IPL. Only a few have done this after announcing their retirements, such as Virender Sehwag in T10 League, Yuvraj Singh in Global T20 League in Canada. Suresh Raina is one of the players who have expressed the desire to play such leagues. In 2020, he had suggested that BCCI let players without central contracts feature in franchise leagues. But no move has been made on part of the board.

This topic became a point of discussion after India's semifinal loss to England in T20 World Cup, with former players like Anil Kumble and Tom Moody suggesting that Indian players be given permission to play overseas leagues to gain exposure and skills in the shorter format. But Indian head coach Rahul Dravid disagreed, saying that allowing players to play overseas T20 Leagues would hurt India's domestic cricket as many leagues clash with it. Former Indian head coach and former pacer Zaheer Khan echoed Dravid's views, with Shastri saying that India A tours give youngsters heavy overseas exposure.

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