Jeet Raval is backing a young Auckland Aces squad to make a big splash at the inaugural Abu Dhabi T20 competition, despite being without their star names.

The Aces will travel to the Gulf without internationals such as Test Match opener Raval, Martin Guptill and Colin Munro, instead utilising a host of young up and comers.

They will stay at home as part of their commitments as New Zealand centrally contracted players.

But Raval describes the travelling party as “exciting” and expects them to make an impression on the six-team tournament, starting next Thursday.

The Aces, who reached last season’s Super Smash elimination final – an effective semi-final, have been placed in Group B alongside Afghanistan’s Boost Defenders and the Multiply Titans of South Africa.

They play the opening match against Boost on Thursday evening (4pm) at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.

“This competition is massive,” said Raval, who is hoping some good form can also have a positive knock-on effect for the Aces’ forthcoming four-day Plunket Shield campaign.

“It’s a fantastic chance for our guys to showcase their skills on a world stage against some of the best domestic teams from other countries.

“I’m sure they will be looking to make the most of the opportunity and add to their portfolio.

“Abu Dhabi will be different conditions than they are used to, hot, spin friendly, slow and low.

“We don’t get those conditions back at home.

“It’s about finding a way to succeed and adjust your game.

“That’s part of growing up as a cricketer because you will be challenged in all types of conditions.

“I know all the guys are super excited and fizzing to get to Abu Dhabi and make a contribution. It’s a fairly young squad, but an exciting one.

“And if they can get some early momentum with a win or two, you never know what they can achieve.

“T20 is a funny game with small margins.”

The Plunket Shield campaign starts on October 10, four days after the Abu Dhabi T20 final, with a trip to Wellington.

“If the boys come back home with a couple of wins, it will really set us up well for the start of the Plunket Shield,” said Raval, who has explained his unavailability for the event.

“From what I’ve heard, there’s a commercial week planned for New Zealand centrally contracted players like myself, Martin Guptill, Colin Munro,” he added.

“There are also a couple of guys in the New Zealand A team, Glenn Phillips and Mark Chapman.

“They leave on October 8 for Dubai (to play an all formats series with Pakistan A win the UAE).”

Raval has just completed a four-game County Championship spell as Yorkshire’s overseas player. He will travel to the UAE with New Zealand’s Test team for their November series with Pakistan.

Auckland Aces squad: Craig Cachopa (captain), Finn Allen, Michael Barry, Jamie Brown, Graeme Beghin, Danru Ferns, Michael Guptill-Bunce, Ben Horne, Ben Lister, Matt McEwan, Robbie O’Donnell, Sean Solia, Will Somerville.

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