Here Sport360’s cricket expert Ajit Vijaykumar analyses an action-packed double bill of IPL clashes on Saturday.
What did you make of the action? Get in touch on social media, use #360Fans.
Team Interface, one of the top UAE clubs, will close down at the end of the season with their owner citing a lack of support from some cricket councils as a major reason.
The ‘A’ Division outfit, owned by Nalin Khaitan, has become a formidable force in the domestic game, winning six Twenty20 titles since launching in 2007.
Their current squad includes UAE internationals Ahmed Raza, Muhammed Kaleem and Fahad Tariq. But they will be searching for a new club from next month after Khaitan was critical with the way the domestic game is run.
“I feel cricket is just going backwards in the UAE,” said the opening batsman. “The trust that teams and councils has had has now all gone. There’s no more fun and I don’t enjoy being on the cricket field anymore.”
This season, more than 10 domestic tournaments were hosted by different cricket councils and generally attracted the same teams.
Khaitan, who owns Gemini Arabians, champions of this year’s Masters Champions League, pointed to an incident last month that convinced him that enough was enough. “There were two matches that were scheduled on the same day – the semi-finals of the Desert Premier League and Al Dhaid Gold Cup,” he said.
“Playing two games was not an issue but the Desert Premier League is a T20 game starting at 08:00, while the 40-over Al Dhaid Gold Cup was due to start at 09:00. With the two games clashing, we raised the issue to the respective councils to change the schedule but there was no agreement.
“We had no option but to walkover the Al Dhaid Gold Cup. That was something I was pretty upset about as we made a big effort to reach the semi-finals but the councils did not solve their schedule. We also withdrew from the Bukhatir League Trophy as well and that was the final nail in the coffin.”
He added: “Some of these councils are pretty aware of what is going on and there’s no co-ordination between any of them. Each follows its own policy. There’s really no point in wasting my energy in this anymore.”
His side has a chance to end their season on a high if they overcome Red Flowers Tourism in today’s Desert Premier League final, while the Dubai outfit are also in the mix in the 50-over ‘A’ Division tournament in Abu Dhabi.
Whenever that last match may be in the capital, Khaitan insists it will be hard to not don the Interface shirt again but did not rule out coming back.
“It was very emotional because I’ve been with this club for nearly 10 years and promoted a lot of young cricketers,” he said. “I’m not saying this is the end of Team Interface.”
The Emirates Cricket Board Domestic Cricket Development Committee were unable to be reached yesterday, but Amin Farooq, secretary of Dubai Cricket Council said: “I will speak to Khaitan on Sunday and see why he’s shutting down.
“If there’s anything we can help out, we will try our best to do that.”
Travelwings Mirchi Premier League founder Manish Kishore believes the new player selection rules will make this season more interesting when it gets underway later this month.
Danube’s Jebel Ali Dynamos enter the indoor cricket tournament next weekend in Dubai as the defending champions after defeating AAJ’s Downtown Strikers last year.
But they will not be able to call on the same players with organisers setting new rules that each side must contain eight new faces.
After holding trials that attracted more than 600 hopefuls in April, team owners chose their best 12-man squad for the three-day competition at United Pro Sports.
“This year’s tournament will be even bigger than last year and it will be much harder to predict a champion due to the new concept,” said Kishore after the launch ceremony at Dubai’s Nassima Royal Hotel.
“We see several leagues here in Dubai which require teams to form an entire team before entering into a competition.
“Our concept enables new corporates to come forward and enter a team without worrying about building a team as they can select based on who impressed during the trials. This will make the competition more interesting as no team from last year will have the same squad. It means they have to work even harder as a team to win.”