Danube Lions roar to emphatic Arabian Cricket League success

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Danube Lions celebrate victory in the Arabian Cricket League at the ICC Academy.

The Danube Lions side, so impressive in indoor cricket at the ICC Academy, carried over that dominance to the state-of-the-art facility’s outdoor ovals by sealing the Arabian Cricket League title thanks to an emphatic 122-run win against the Alubond Tigers.

Under lights at Dubai Sports City, the Lions scored an imposing 225 for four batting first in the Grand Final before dismissing the Tigers for 103.

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It meant not only victory and the trophy produced by Crystal Gallery, but also a AED20,000 cheque, and the cash prizes for Danube’s players did not stop there.

Asif Ali picked up AED1000 for a player of the match performance as he scored an unbeaten 93 from just 40 deliveries to catapult his side to what turned out to be its impregnable Grand Final total, while his team-mate Asif Iqbal also found himself AED1000 richer when he was named player of the tournament.

The match was the last of 15 in a tournament involving eight Dubai Cricket Council ‘A’ Division teams, and was a repeat of an earlier encounter in the pool stage of the event.

Shahzad Manna, with 64 from 47 balls, got the ball rolling for Danube and there was a late flourish from Fakhar Zaman, whose unbeaten 25 occupied just 13 deliveries, but the headlines were truly grabbed by Asif Ali.

His 93 not out included six sixes and seven fours and his brutal batting helped to ensure 134 runs came from the final 10 overs of the Danube innings, with 76 of them in the last five overs.

The target of 226 was a daunting one for the Tigers and the side was never in contention as Danube finished the job with aplomb.

Amir Hayat started the rot with 2-21 before Emmad Ali, who finished with 4-14, administered the final rites.

The Alubond Tigers side was bowled out in 15.4 overs and that marked the start of the Danube Lions celebrations.

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In good nick: Andrew Hodd smashed 79 against Sussex in the Emirates T20 final.

Yorkshire will be full of confidence when they take on the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in today’s Champion County match as the players look to fine-tune their preparations for the new season.

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It will be the sixth time Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium will host the four-day game where many of the cricketers, including MCC’s Alastair Cook, will come up against the pink ball for the first time in the day-night game.

The English county champions will enter the game on the back of winning the Emirates Airline T20 title on Friday after a comprehensive 74-run triumph over three-time defending champions Sussex at 7he Sevens Stadium in Dubai.

Yorkshire stand-in captain Alex Lees insists today’s game is very important for their season’s preparations.

“It was great to get this win (Emirates Airline T20) and now we want to carry that momentum forward for the MCC game because it’s another important game for us.”

Having overseen preparations in the UAE since their arrival more than a week ago, coach Jason Gillespie is more than happy to be playing against a strong MCC squad.

“It’s a great opportunity for the lads, especially those who have been training in England over the winter,” he said. “It’ll be fantastic to start playing some cricket and the MCC have put together an incredibly strong squad. 

“There’s only so much indoor preparation you can do and I think it’s great to be able to get the lads together on tour,” he added.

Leg-spinner Adil Rashid, one of six players to be included in the England Test squad for the West Indies, will be one of the in-form players after his four wickets in the final, while opener Andrew Hodd will also pose a threat after his 79 in the same game.

They will up against a side which includes England Test captain Cook. The opening batsman made 35 in their 18-run loss against Sussex in Friday’s semi-final and he will be eager to spend as much time at the crease ahead of England’s first Test against West Indies on April 13.

He will be joined by skipper Nick Compton and compatriot Michael Carberry, while Durham pair Graham Onions and Chris Rushworth will spearhead the MCC attack. 

Middlesex’s Compton is relishing the opportunity of leading the side. Speaking to www.ecb.co.uk, the 31-year-old said: “If we win the game and win it well, and we all perform, then it will rank really highly on my achievements.

“I’m playing with some very, very good players, so I feel quite privileged to be able to lead these guys in what hopefully will be a very competitive match.”

Speaking of Cook’s presence, he said: “To have the England captain, it’s a treat in a way to have his experience and have his knowledge. It adds a bit more impetus to the game.”

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