Abu Dhabi Cricket Council (ADCC) has announced that a record 20 teams will compete in the Al Hamad ‘A’ Division Trophy tourna-ment which begins on January 17.
The 23rd edition of the tournament will be played at Zayed Cricket Stadium as well as Nursery Ovals 1 and 2.
Matches will be played every Thursday, Friday and Saturday with the winners receiving Dh20,000 while the runners-up will pocket Dh12,000.
The matches will be played in a 50-over format on a round-robin basis with the 20 teams split into four groups. The top two sides will qualify for the quarter-finals.
ADCC president Wajahat Husain said the number of teams was increased from 16 to 20 because many teams from UAE wanted to take part in the tournament. Husain said: “All teams have agreed to come to Abu Dhabi.”
Friday matches at Zayed Cricket Stadium will begin at 15:00, while the Thursday and Saturday matches will start at 15:30.
Matches at Nursery Ovals 1 and 2 will commence at 09:00. Prizes will be awarded for Man of the Match, Man of the Tournament, best batsman and bowler.
The UAE maintained their perfect start to the Cricket World Cup qualifiers on Wednesday with an 80 run victory over Canada.
Amjad Ali (91) and captain Khurram Khan (88) were the pick of the batsmen as the UAE completed their innings 286 for 6.
Having won the toss, the UAE chose to bat first and soon lost opening batsman Salman Farris, who managed to score 18 runs before JOA Gordan took his only wicket; dismissing Farris through Hamza Tariqs catch.
Shaiman Anwar, who scored a century in UAE’s opening round match against Nepal went for just a run after facing two balls.
After setting Canada a tough target, the UAE wasted little time in dismantling their opponents, taking three wickets in the first five overs for the loss of just nine runs.
Naveed bowled Nitish Kumar on the 15th ball of the innings, and Kumar’s opening partner Ruvindu Gunasekera soon followed, caught out by Rohan Mustafa from a Manjula Guruge delivery.
Canada kept the game alive when Jimmy Hansara came in three down to score 100 not out from 119 balls, but after his 89-run partnership with Raza-Ur-Rehman (43) was broken, their chances of claiming victory looked highly unlikely.
UAE skipper Khan, added to his 88 run display as he bowled out Rehman and Trevin Bastiampillai (17), while Kamran Shezad disappointed after his previous brilliant form in the opener, picking up no wickets.
In their next fixture, UAE face Scotland on January 19.
Elsewhere, Nambia won their opener against Netherlands by 91 runs in the other qualifier on Wednesday after posting 253 for 6. Gerrie Snymar top-scored with 76, while Christi Viljoen picked up four wickets.
The Dutch were all out for 162 with their top scorer Michael Rippon amassing 44 off 73 balls.
Chathura Deshapriya followed up his unbeaten century last week with another superb 86 not out for the Colombo Lions, who are now in the semi-finals of the UAE Exchange Centre Twenty20 Cup.
Set a challenging 223 by Abu Dhabi Warriors, the Lions knocked off the winning runs for the loss of six wickets with 10 balls to spare at the Abu Dhabi Cricket Council grounds.
Openers Indika Sampath (35 off 15 balls) and Sanjeeva Dias (52 off 18) set the platform for the Lions with a swashbuckling start.
Sampath hammered three sixes and an equal number of fours and Dias hit three sixes and eight fours as they put on 90 in 30 balls.
Deshapriya, who scored 100 not out against the MCC-Zayed Cricket Academy in the previous game, then saw his team through with a 40-ball knock that was highlighted by eight sixes and a couple of fours.
They meet Adnoc Distribution, who edged out Emistate by two wickets with three deliveries to spare.
Mohammed Naveed (32 not out) and Ali Sabri (11 not out) added 21 valuable runs for the ninth wicket to take them over the line after Imran Zia had stroked a top-score of 54, which was studded with 10 fours.
Meanwhile, Zaheer Maqsood and Ahmed Raza, the UAE international, took three wickets apiece for United Bank Limited (UBL) to clinch a 29-run win over Thrifty Car Rental while Takreer sent the sponsor’s team packing out in the other games.