With cricket booming across the UAE, Sport360° decided to sit down each week with one local cricketer to find out more about the players that make up the sport in the emirates.
This week we spoke to AD Gymkhana player Haroon Iftikhar.
Born: Sialkot, Pakistan
First match you watched: Pakistan v New Zealand at the 1992 World Cup.
Favourite format: 50-overs because that is a game that requires a lot of consistency from the players.
Best cricket match you watched: South Africa v Australia ODI in Johannesburg in 2006.
Favourite player growing up: Imran Khan. I liked every aspect of him as a player. He was a leader, had a great character and the players believed in him.
First piece of cricket equipment you bought or given: A bat from my dad in 1996.
One stadium you would like to visit: The WACA (Perth). The design is different to other venues and has a lot of history.
Best player at the moment: AB de Villiers – he can adapt his batting to ODIs, T20s and Tests and always entertains the crowd and is consistent.
Favourite sporting moment: When Pete Sampras won the 2000 Wimbledon title. He beat Rafter for his last title there and it was a tight match.
Other sports you play: Football, swimming and table tennis.
Favourite meal: BBQ grilled chicken.
Favourite thing about playing cricket in the UAE: We get to play games against sides from all around the UAE, which helps us improve and learn as a team.
Rizwan CP grabbed seven wickets while Prasanth Braggs blasted a quickfire half century as Yogi Group registered their third win with a mammoth 237-run victory over Cost Cutter CC in the 40th Bukhatir League “A” division tournament.
Winning the toss at Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Yogi opener Chirag Suri fell for just 11 from 22 balls.
But along with Prasanth, the duo had made a 51-run partnership as Braggs toyed with the Cost Cutter bowlers.
Braggs accelerated the run rate and soon reached 93 from only 36 deliveries with 80 of his runs coming from boundaries.
Salman Faris, batting at number three, played a comparatively subdued knock, making a near run-a-ball 61 from 68 deliveries.
Rizwan (32) and Shahzad Manna (39) adopted a steady approach but ensured their side maintained the impressive run rate.
Jaymin Tailor scored 31, while Rohit Chowdury smashed a rapid 36as Yogi Group registered 340 all out from 48 of their allotted 50 oers.
Chasing the eventually improbable target, Cost Cutter had problems from the wordgo with opener Waseem Rana out for a duck.
Another quick wicket meant Cost Cutter were struggling at 11 for 2 but Asim Kaleem (11) and Tariq Shah (46) added 39 runs for the third wicket before Rizwan swung into action.
Following his efforts with the bat, Rizwan completely took over proceedings with the ball in his nine overs as he ripped through Cost Cutter’s batting lineup.
His seven-wicket haul included five maidens while conceding only 22 runs as Cost Cutter were bundled out for a modest 103 runs.
Yogi Group 40 all out in 48.1 overs; (Prasanth Braggs 93, Salman Faris 61, Shahzad Manna 39; Zeeshan Durrni 2 for 61, Fahad Usman 2 for 10) beat Cost Cutter 103 all out in 36 overs; (Tariq Shah 46, Amir Jaffar 21; Rizwan CP 7 for 22) by 237 runs.
Man of the match: Rizwan CP (Yogi Group).
Defending champions Wings XI have been drawn with Seven Seas Strikers, MMS Rental, Al Fahim and Life Line Hospital in Group C of the Ramadan T20 Pan Global Trophy.
The tournament – which begins on Wednesday, June 25 – saw UBL, Brooks CC, NMC, Corniche Beach Club and Yogi Group drawn in Group A, while Al Fara’a, Al Jabeen Heroes, Alubond Tigers and Daman Insurance and ADNOC will clash in Group B.
And in the final group, ADCB, Danube Lions, Haad, Interface Transworld and Phoenix Medicine will battle for a place in the knockout stage of the tournament.
Sponsored by Onashi Trading and Pan Global, two matches a day will be played at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
The tournament, sanctioned by the Abu Dhabi Cricket Council (ADCC), will be played under flood lights at 19:30 and 23:30 and to ensure the competitiveness of the tournament, overseas players will be allowed, while each squad will comprise of 18 players.
Group matches will be played on a league basis, with the top two teams making the knock-out stages.
The winners will receive Dh20,000, while the runners-up will bag Dh12,000. Other prizes include best player, bowler and batsman of the tournament.
Wajahat Husain, president of the ADCC, highlighted the tournament as the most important on the UAE’s cricket calendar.
Speaking at a press conference, he said: “This tournament attracts all of the UAE’s top domestic teams and provides an opportunity to all cricket lovers to watch some high quality matches after breaking their fast. Over the years it has developed into a premier tournament and is followed by all people in the country.
“We want to attract the youth to show that cricket is a fun sport and hopefully by what they see at the stadium we can draw their interest in playing the game.”