United Pro Sports have launched their brand new one-day cricket tournament with a unique twist that will certainly keep players on their toes.
To be held on Friday, April 28 at Dubai’s United Pro Sports, eight teams have already signed up for the United Technology and Trading Co (UTTC) Cricket Challenge and there’s still time to get a side together with registration closing on Thursday.
While all matches will follow indoor cricket rules of eight overs, organisers have added a new rule with a ‘Bazooka’ over to make it more interesting.
“The Bazooka over is a new concept to the tournament that can certainly change the game around in just six balls,” said Manish Kishore, project consultant at UPS.
“This over can be taken between the first and seventh over and can be crucial because every run that is scored that tally is double, while each wicket that falls, it will mean -10 runs for the batting team.
“This is a unique thing for us because it means that players will have be on their toes throughout the game even though they may have a commendable lead because just one over can turn the game around. It can certainly lift the confidence of the team entirely if they do well.
“We have seen in the past that what an impact it can make can look forward to see how the teams approach it next week.”
Teams will be formed into one league with the top eight going through to the quarter-finals. Each side is guaranteed to play at least three matches.
While there is no restriction to age and abilities, Kishore insists it will be there plenty of reasons on why teams should sign up.
“United Pro Sports have been organising so many successful cricket tournaments and this one will be no different,” he said.
“The weather in this country is definitely getting hot and it’s much hotter than it was in previous years at this time of the month. So it’s a great opportunity for teams to play indoors and play at United Pro Sports and play in an exciting event.
“This will just be the start of a busy indoor cricket season for us because we have plans to introduce more during Ramadan so cricketers can continue playing during the summer even if the weather is hot outside.”
Registration costs Dh500 per team with trophies and medals up for grabs for the winners.
A top Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) official admits it will be difficult to select the best group of cricketers to represent the UAE Under-16 team after being impressed with the talent he saw in this season’s Inter-Emirate tournament.
More than 50 promising youngsters from Ajman, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah were in action as they looked to catch eye of selectors and make a case for donning the national jersey.
Captain Aryan Lakra pressed his case with an unbeaten 100 (12 fours and one six) off 109 deliveries as Dubai retained their title after an eight-wicket victory over Ajman Cricket Council.
Ronak Panoly (317 runs), Lakra (222) and Vriitya Arvand (162), all of Dubai, were the three to score tons. Lakra (eight), Adithya Shetty (seven), Yuvraj Jaisingh and Anwar Khan (both six) were among the top wicket-takers.
The ECB will now analyse all performances before selecting a shortlist of 20 for a four-month training camp ahead of naming their final squad for the West Asia tournament in Qatar in September.
Andrew Russell, national development manager of the ECB, said: “We have a good bunch of youth players coming through which is good to see just from this tournament alone.
“There were a lot of good batting performances and big scores which is always nice to see, while the bowling was very good.
“Hopefully, the boys who do get selected can step up after a few practice sessions and compete internationally.”
Lakra is hoping to make the final shortlist for the second time after making the cut in the U-16 and U-19 categories.
“Since I was selected last year, I felt I needed to lead from the front and I was happy to do that,” said the 15-year-old.
“To score a century in the final is fantastic and I was focused on helping my team win the title. There were a lot of players I hadn’t played against which was a bit difficult, but it shows that there is a very good pool of players.
“I hope I’ve done enough to make the next round because it was a real honour to represent the UAE Under-19s last year and would love to do it again.”
It’s been a good month for UAE cricket after registering ODI, first-class and T20I series wins over Papua New Guinea.
After a pretty barren run of form since the departure of coach Aaqib Javed in April last year, temporary incumbent Dougie Brown has finally found a winning formula for the UAE.
Previous short term appointments Paul Franks and Owais Shah had less success when it came to results but it seems a lightbulb has switched on in the UAE camp.
At the heart of the team’s resurgence has been five men, including Brown.
Here, we look at those who have instigated UAE’s much needed return to form.