Essex to begin their T20 Blast campaign against Surrey tonight

Pakistan's bowler Wahab Riaz during the second one day international match against England at Zayed

Pakistan's bowler Wahab Riaz during the second one day international match against England at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Hafsal Ahmed) - Credit: AP

Essex get their NatWest T20 Blast campaign underway this evening when they host Surrey at Chelmsford.

The Eagles reached the quarter-finals of last year’s tournament before exiting at the hands of the Birmingham Bears but, having made a number of additions, will be looking to reach finals day this time around.

Pakistan international bowler Wahab Riaz is available for the first seven games of the group stage, before then joining up with his national side for their tour of England, and can’t wait to get started.

“The feeling is really good, I’ve met some of my team mates and they’ve been very friendly and supportive,” Riaz told EssexCricketTV.

“It feels like a family and I’m eager to perform well. I’ve played against Ryan ten Doeschate and he’s a good player and a good bloke as well, we know each other well.

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“James Foster is a good player and it’s a good team. It’s definitely nice to play for Essex and it will be nice to win games for Essex here, it’s great, and I want to leave a mark here.

“I want to perform well to help the team win and get to the top. That’s what I’m here for and I’ll do my best.

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“I want the fans to support me and to support the team, I want them to shout ‘Wahab’.”

Riaz had hoped to play in the same Essex side as England captain Alastair Cook, but with the opener on international duty himself, the Pakistan bowler will have to wait until later in the summer when the two countries face each other.

“If I’m honest I thought I would get to play in the same team as Alastair Cook,” he said.

“He’s a lovely guy and a lovely batsman who makes you work hard for his wicket. You can learn a lot of things from him as he has a lot of experience.

“Unfortunately I won’t be playing with him but I will be playing against him.”

Ravi Bopara takes charge of the Essex side this evening after being named as limited overs skipper in the summer, with club captain Ryan ten Doeschate forming a vital part of the middle order.

Visitors Surrey are likely to include world class Sri Lankan batsman Kumar Sangakkara in their side.

Tonight’s game is scheduled to start at 7.15pm and is televised on Sky Sports.

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