Fast bowler Sreesanth remains popular as ever in UAE's Kerala community despite spot-fixing spectre

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Sreesanth at the Pro Kerala League in Dubai.

S Sreesanth suffered another setback in his prolonged battle to clear his name in the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal after the Kerala High Court on Wednesday restored the life ban imposed on him by the Indian cricket board.

The World Cup and World T20-winning fast bowler was banned for life for his alleged involvement in the spot-fixing scandal that also resulted in a two-year suspension for owners of the Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings franchises.

However, for the Kerala cricketer, life goes on, albeit in a different direction. There seems to be very little dip in his popularity as far as the Malayalee community is concerned and there was ample proof of it in Dubai where he was the ‘chief guest’ at the Pro Kerala League indoor cricket tournament.

The tournament is a revamped version of the Kerala Cricket League that was discontinued a couple of years ago and has been restarted by Rakesh Poduval and Manish Kishore with the help of sponsors like Lenovo and Danube.

The event launch saw around 300 people turn up at United Pro Sports in Al Qouz to catch a glimpse of Sreesanth. The fast bowler even agreed to bowl a few balls to batsmen participating in the 14-team tournament. However what started as a few throwdowns turned into a free-for-all as Sreesanth ended up bowling nearly three overs and that too in traditional India attire.

The tournament organisers see Sreesanth “as a celebrity and nothing less”. He has acted in two movies and also dipped his toes in the political field with the backing of the ruling national party BJP, losing the state assembly election by around 11,000 votes last year.

One of the reasons behind his continuing popularity is the fact he is by far the most successful cricketer to come from the state of Kerala, which has traditionally produced some of the finest Indian athletes and footballers. Even the Kerala Cricket Association provided their full support to Sreesanth, making arrangements for his training and practice if given the go-ahead by the BCCI.

With such support from his community, it’s no surprise Sreesanth wants the freedom to play competitively, if not under the BCCI’s banner.

“If you were in my place, you just wouldn’t be angry. You would be something else. I have controlled my anger. I am just asking for my livelihood, I am not begging for anything,” Sreesanth said on the sidelines of the Pro Kerala League.

Well, at least he has the Malayalee community behind him.

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PCB chief Najam Sethi releases star Pakistan players for inaugural T10 Cricket League

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The likes of Amir and Hafeez will be made available for the league.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Najam Sethi has extended his backing for the inaugural T10 Cricket League to be held in the UAE in December.

The PCB’s approval means Pakistan stars such as Shahid Afridi, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shoaib Malik, Mohammed Amir, Babar Azam, Ahmed Shehzad and Fakhar Zaman, amongst top Pakistani centrally contracted players will feature in the upcoming T10 Cricket League player draft in November.

Shaji Ul Mulk, Chairman of Mulk Holdings and the T10 Cricket league, expressed his gratitude to the PCB chief for his support.

“I am delighted to announce that the Pakistan Cricket Board has offered its full support and has confirmed the release of their current centrally contracted players. On behalf of the T10 Cricket League Management, Team owners and Emirates Cricket Board, I would like to offer my special gratitude to PCB chairman Mr. Najam Sethi for his support to the T10 Cricket League,” said Shaji Ul Mulk in Dubai.

Pakistan Cricket board’s involvement comes in light of other cricket boards sanctioning and approving the much talked about T10 Cricket league such as the Sri Lankan Cricket Board, Bangladesh Cricket Board, Emirates Cricket Board and Zimbabwe Cricket Board.

The 10 Cricket League Chairman thanked the PCB for its support.

The 10 Cricket League Chairman thanked the PCB for its support.

The attraction of Shahid Afridi and the strong line-up of centrally contracted players from Pakistan will add a whole new bang to the already much talked about 10 over format. With a potential audience of over 1.4 billion South Asian people, 90 minutes of action, 10 overs a side, star players, celebrities, performance shows, South Asian rivalries, performances after every over, drama and nail-biting finishes. it is bound to be crickets newest and hottest attraction.

Salman Iqbal, president of the T10 Cricket League and  Founder and CEO of ARY digital network, speaking on the PCB approval said: “Pakistani cricketers are some of the most exciting players in the world with star following of millions of passionate fans. They will be an integral part of our leagues’ success. I would like to thank Mr. Sethi and the PCB for their support for the T10 Cricket League and their progressive thinking towards the development of this game we all love!”

Also adding to the mix of T10 Cricket League list of current international players including Eoin Morgan captain of the England team, Shakib Al Hasan, Virender Sehwag and Sangakkara the ‘cricketentainment’ will begin from the first ball!

Virender Sehwag and Kumar Sangakkara have already signed up.

Virender Sehwag and Kumar Sangakkara have already signed up.

Over 100 performers per match to entertain crowds, crowd interaction, player interaction, rivalries, over 20 celebrities in attendance every match, International players and cricketing action from the first ball!

Team captains and coaches will have to adjust to the new format by deploying new strategies and adapting to the T10 Cricket League. Speaking to the press Shahid Afridi said “When I was told of the idea I was thrilled and requested that I want to play.”

Teams are solely based in and around the South Asian subcontinent and icons of business, movie industry and sport both in and around the region including Bollywood actors have bought teams which include – Punjabi Legends (Inzamam Ul Haq and Intizar Ul Haq) led by Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakhtoons (Habib Khan) led by Shahid Afridi, Maratha Arabians (Parvez Khan, Bollywood star: Sohail Khan and Ali Tumbi led by Virender Sehwag), Bengal Tigers (Anis Sajan, Rizwan Sajan, Sirajuddin Alam and Neelesh Bhagatanar), Colombo Lions (Vijay Vyas, Kashif Shahzad and Mohomed Morani led by Shoaib Malik) and Kerala Kings (Hussain Adam Ali and Dr.Shafi Ul Mulk .

The T10 Cricket League games will be broadcast all over the world.

Action begins December in the historic Guinness book of records, Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

Teams

Punjabi Legends

Owners: Inzamam-ul-Haq and Intizar-ul-Haq; Key player: Misbah-ul-Haq

Pakhtoons

Owners: Habib Khan and Tajuddin Khan; Key player: Shahid Afridi

Maratha Arabians

Owners: Sohail Khan, Ali Tumbi, Parvez Khan; Key player: Virender Sehwag

Bangla Tigers

Owners: Shirajuddin Alam, Yasin Choudhary, Neelesh Bhatnager, Anis and Rizwan Sajan; Key player: TBC

Colombo Lions

Owners: Sri Lanka Cricket; Key player: TBC

Kerala Kings

Owners: Hussain Adam Ali and Shafi Ul Mulk; Key player: Eoin Morgan

Venue:

Sharjah Cricket Stadium

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West Indies legend Brian Lara named Kerala Kings mentor-coach

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Brian Lara

Kerala Kings, one of the six franchise teams for the first internationally organised 10 overs-a-side cricket league in this region, got a boost on Monday when former legend Brian Lara was named as their mentor and coach.

Confirming the news, Dr Nawab Shafi Ul Mulk, co-owner of the Kerala Kings franchise along with Hussain Adam Ali, said: “This is a great way to get things moving after Eoin Morgan agreed to take up the captain and brand ambassador roles for the Kings recently.”

Speaking about the role, Lara said he was looking forward to taking up a role where the new version (T10 cricket) would be challenging and interesting.

The players’ draft (auction) will be held in the UAE on October 25 where over 120 leading names in the sport will be listed.

The event coined as ‘T10 Cricket League’ will be held at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium from December 21-24. Nawab Shaji Ul Mulk, UAE cricket veteran and a long time supporter of the sport, came out with the innovative idea to introduce 10 overs-a-side cricket to this part of the world. It has brought in a lot of interest among the followers of both Test and limited overs cricket.

The other franchises taking part in the shortest, most condensed version of the sport are Punjabi Legends, Pakhtoons, Maratha Arabians, Bangla Tigers and Colombo Lions.

Lara holds the record for the highest individual score in a Test innings after scoring 400 not out against England at Antigua in 2004. He is the only batsman to have ever scored a century, a double century, a triple century, a quadruple century and a quintuple century in first class matches.

Trinidadian Lara, acknowledged as one of the greatest batsmen of all time, registered the highest individual score in first class with an unbeaten 501 for Warwickshire against Durham at Edgbaston in 1994, which is the only quintuple hundred in first class cricket history.

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