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| 30 September, 2017

UAE’s unique T10 league beckons cricket legends

Image used for illustrative purposes. Pakistan's captain Shahid Afridi plays a shot.

Image used for illustrative purposes. Pakistan's captain Shahid Afridi plays a shot.

REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Afridi, Sehwag, Sangakkara, Morgan and Shakib to be brand ambassadors and captains

Dubai: The UAE is all set to host a unique cricket tournament featuring well-known international players. The T10 Cricket League will be launched on Monday (October 3) and staged at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium from December 21 to 25. The event has gained approval from the International Cricket Council and is being backed by Emirates Criket Board.

The league will see legendary cricketers like Shahid Afridi, Virender Sehwag, Kumar Sangakkara and current players like England skipper Eoin Morgan and Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan in action. They will also play the role of the five brand ambassadors. The tournament is being supported by Asia’s leading cricket boards.

Speaking the Gulf News, Shaji Ul Mulk, the Emirates Cricket Board member, General Secretary of Ajman Cricket Council and President of the T10 Cricket League, said: “It will be the first ten-over tournament to be played with international cricketers and a contest of the South Asian communities. Six teams named Colombo Kings, Maratha Arabians, Punjabi Legends, Pakthoons, Kerala Kings and Bangla Tigers will contest.”

Asked how the concept of a league based on ten-over contests had emerged, Ul Mulk said: “Such an idea sprang up while watching soccer, which is a ninety minute contest. Not only soccer but volleyball and basketball are all 90-minute span events and, with attention span of fans worldwide getting shorter and shorter, we thought why not try out cricket which will last only 90 minutes. Once we got that 90 minute concept, then we designed a cricket game around 90 minutes and thus emerged with this ten-over tournament.”

Elaborating on the concept, Ul Mulk said: “With four minutes an over, one innings will get over in 40 minutes and, after a ten-minute break, the second innings of 40 minutes duration will begin. Matches will start from 6.30pm and three games will be held per day during the four days, which will be Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”

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Ul Mulk also revealed that cricket boards have taken active interest. “The concept has been well received by full member boards to the extent that the Sri Lanka Cricket Board was the first one to come on board by sending their champion provincial team Colombo with nearly nine international players. Colombo will be led by Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal.

“The Bangladesh cricket board stepped in and they are sending their registered team with Bangladesh international players. Shakib Al Hassan will lead the Bangla Tigers team. The whole tournament will be played only by internationals. We have made it mandatory that two players per team should be from UAE. That way there will be 12 UAE players in the six teams.”

He also revealed that one of the teams is owned by former Pakistan captain Inzamam Ul Haq and, considering the following for cricket among expatriates from Kerala, even a Kerala Kings team has been formed.

“Punjab Legends will be owned by Inzamam and Raheel Siddiqui. Colombo will be owned by Hussain Adam Ali and Maratha Arabians ownership will be a partnership between three — Sohail Khan, the Bollywood actor, Ali Thumbay of Aqua Properties, and Prevez Khan of Pacific Ventures.

“Pakhtoons is owned by Habib Khan, owner of General Petroleum and Kerala Kings owner will be Nilesh Bhatnakar and Dr Shafi Ul Mulk. Bangla Tigers owner is Bangladesh Cricket board official Shirajuddin Alam and Cineyug Mumbai,” he said.

The league has been sold for $51 million (Dh187.2 million) for ten years. England captain Morgan is expected to lead the Kerala Kings while Afridi will captain Pakhtoons. Marathi Arabians will be captained by Sehwag and Sangkakkara is expected to play for them.

The players’ draft will be held on October 25 and, in the list of 120 players, there are leading players like Hashim Amla, Faf Du Plessis and all leading shorter version cricket stars from around the world. “We will ensure it is entertainment cricket with nearly 100 performers inside the stadium performing to the crowd. It will be a combination of fast cricket and high level of entertaintment,” Ul Mulk said.

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