Organisers hope that their staging of the Abu Dhabi T20 Trophy can prove to the cricketing world that Abu Dhabi is more than capable of hosting any competition.
Abu Dhabi Cricket (ADC) and Abu Dhabi Sports Council announced their most high-profile tournament to date on Sunday that will see the likes of Chris Gayle, Yasir Shah and Albie Morkel in action at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium from October 4 to 6.
Yorkshire Vikings of England, Afghanistan’s Boost Defenders, Big Bash League’s Hobart Hurricanes, Pakistan Super League’s Lahore Qalandars and South Africa’s most successful T20 outfit Multiply Titans have all been confirmed so far.
Despite hosting numerous international matches as well as the 2014 IPL, Abu Dhabi have been overlooked for the PSL with the Pakistan Cricket Board preferring Dubai and Sharjah. The inaugural Afghanistan Premier League, which will be held in October, is set to take place in Sharjah.
But ADC’s acting CEO Matt Boucher believes that the Abu Dhabi T20 Trophy could be just the start of more elite cricket to arrive in the UAE capital.
“We hope that international boards can see that we run our own events in line with our own marketing and promotional campaigns,” he said. “That can give them some comfort that we can run our own events. We have expanded our stadium to just over 24,000 people. The justifications of not using Abu Dhabi as an international cricketing base is becoming less and less. We want to be an arguable venue and one that is hard to ignore.”
With some of the world’s greatest cricket stars set to land #inAbuDhabi in only a matter of months for the inaugural #AbuDhabiT20, excitement is building quickly for this tournament. There's also lots of hype about this mystery 6th team, Who could it be? pic.twitter.com/2nFiSGuX2e— Abu Dhabi Cricket (@AbuDhabiCricket) July 1, 2018
He added: “We are 15 months into our partnership with Abu Dhabi Sports Council and we really wanted to do something different and make a statement and use our own platform to promote Abu Dhabi, the sport to the community and begin our first steps onto the cricketing map.
“One of our hopes is to establish Abu Dhabi as a cricketing hub. We want to nurture the youth and have a strong platform to inspire the community.”
The line-up is impressive. T20’s most destructive batsman Gayle will play for The Boost Defenders with South African veteran Morkel captaining Titans. England’s pacer Tymal Mills will feature for Hobart while Yasir Shah will don the Lahore Qalandars’ jersey.
Organisers are yet to reveal their sixth and final team but Boucher promised it will be of the same calibre.
“It will be the same calibre. One of the key drivers we want to do is select teams from different region and that promotes ourselves and give them a platform to compete from their respective leagues,” he added.
The all-rounder struck an unbeaten 26 after only facing 13 deliveries in an innings which includes three sixes and a four. That helped the Darren Sammy’s led-side register a total of 169 in their 20 overs on Saturday night.
But Royals, captained by former Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi, chased down that total with five overs to spare after big scores from Andre Fletcher (68no), Luke Ronchi (47) and Agha Salman (38).
Naveed went wicketless in the game after figures of 0-21 but the 31-year-old was happy to have shown his new team-mates that he’s capable of batting too even though the effort came in a losing cause.
“The loss is hard to take but I was quite happy with my batting,” he said. “I am always expected to do well in bowling but when there are world-class players featuring it can be hard. But I will try and continue to do as much as I can every day.”
Naveed was the only UAE international to feature in the game. His Nationals’ team-mate Rohan Mustafa and Royals’ Ahmed Raza and Shaiman Anwar are yet to play in the competition.
Raza and Anwar will be hoping to make the team for the team’s next game on Monday night when Nationals take on Winnipeg Hawks on Tuesday.
Hello, Denzil Pinto and the rest of the Sport360 team are in place to provide you with the latest news, comment and analysis on all things cricket.
Tell us your thoughts on what’s happening by tweeting @Sport360.
3:45pm – Deepak Chahar replaces injured Jasprit Bumrah for England T20s
The BCCI has confirmed that Deepak Chahar will replace the injured Jasprit Bumrah for India’s upcoming T20I series against England. Bumrah had injured his right thumb during the first T20 against Ireland at Dublin and he will now be replaced by the Rajasthan pacer who impressed for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL.
Meanwhile, Krunal Pandya and Axar Patel have been named as the replacements for the injured Washington Sundar. The former will replace the spinning all-rounder in the T20I series while the latter will do so in the ODI series. Read more on this breaking story here.
3:30pm – Pakistan beat Zimbabwe by 74 runs in T20 tri-series opener
Pakistan have recorded a thumping 74-run over hosts Zimbabwe in the first match of the T20I tri-series also involving Australia.
After putting on 182-4 on the board after being asked to bat first, Pakistan bowled out the hosts for just 108 runs inside 18 overs at Harare to start their tour of the African nation with a big win. Read more about Pakistan’s big win in our talking points from the clash.
Also, Shoaib Malik wrote himself into the record books during his unbeaten cameo of 37 runs. Read more about the Pakistan veteran’s record-breaking feat here.
1:45pm – Cameron Bancroft scores just one run on his cricket return
The 25-year-old Australian didn’t have the best of starts on his cricket return after scoring just one run on Sunday. Read more on that story here.
1:30pm – Pakistan set Zimbabwe a target of 183 runs in T20 tri-series opener
At Harare, Pakistan’s innings has drawn to a close with Sarfraz Ahmed’s men posting 182-4 in the T20I tri-series opener after being made to bat first by Zimbabwe skipper Hamilton Masakazda. Fakhar Zaman top-scored for the visitors with a 41-ball 61 while Shoaib Malik (37 not out) and Asif Ali (41 not out) provided the big blows in the death overs.
Zimbabwe’s chase of 183 will get underway in a few minutes. Do not miss any of the action by following the live ball-by-ball updates here.
11:00am – Krunal Pandya likely to replace Washington Sundar in India squad
According to reports, Krunal Pandya is likely to be the man to come in for Washington Sundar, who is reportedly ruled out of the T20 series against England. The BCCI have not yet made an official confirmation but Sundar looks set to join Jasprit Bumrah on the sidelines. Read more on that story here.