Former Pakistan coach and captain Waqar Younis predicts a bright future for the Abu Dhabi T20, saying it has the potential to become a mega event on the cricketing calendar.
The inaugural competition, which saw different sides from around the globe descend on the UAE capital, ended with Pakistan Super League franchise Lahore Qalandars being crowned champions.
Runners-up Multiply Titans of South Africa, England’s Yorkshire Vikings, New Zealand’s Auckland Aces, Afghanistan’s Boost Defenders and Big Bash League’s Hobart Hurricanes completed the six-team line-up that saw the likes of Albie Morkel and Colin Munro in action at Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
The Abu Dhabi T20 was launched by Abu Dhabi Cricket in partnership with Abu Dhabi Sports Council with a vision of making it the sport’s version of the FIFA Club World Cup.
And Waqar, who was commentating during the Abu Dhabi T20 matches, believes the tournament will go from strength to strength.
“It’s a wonderful event,” said the 46-year-old. “The facilities are now oustanding and the pitches are really good. I think it is one of the best venues to host a tournament like this. You have teams coming from all over the world. It is the first time it’s being staged and if it carries on for the next few years, this can become a mega event where all the teams can compete. It’s an ideal centre. There is no home advantage to anyone and it’s a big plus plus.”
Qalandars fielded a squad that was majority made up of players from their development programme. Waqar, who took more than 700 international wickets, believes the Abu Dhabi T20 is a great platform for players to gain experience.
“It’s a perfect place to groom the youngsters and for the kids in the UAE to watch these superstars,” he said. “It’s a learning situation as well and Lahore Qalandars have a lot of new youngsters coming through and are looking to groom. Hopefully these players will go on and play in Pakistan Super League one day.”
The Abu Dhabi T20 was held over three days with a minimum of two matches played per day. Waqar feels it’s best not to expand the tournament to ‘three or four weeks’ if there are plans to invite more teams.
“It’s only a three day tournament and you don’t want to extend it to three or four weeks because there’s so much cricket happening around the world,” he added. “If you keep it short and sweet, people will love it. It’s an ideal place and I don’t really see any reason why this tournament cannot be successful.”
The United Premier League began their fifth season with 10 teams battling it out for glory in the indoor tournament.
Six new franchises have signed up for the latest edition which include Data Care Royals, Omnicom Super Kings, Bengal Tigers, AK Vikings, Nova Creations United and Aks Knights.
They will join four sides who have plenty of experience in the UPL with Athena Warriors, Golden Archers, JayB Stars, and Sun City Gladiators completing the line-up.
All 10 teams will play each other in a league format at InSportz who those advancing playing in a knockout phase ahead of the finale on November 2.
Rahul Tilani, founder of UPL said: “The level of cricket gets competitive every season and this year it’s no different. Our format of having different levels of players from A to G keeps every team in the mix. Look forward to a great season and #KheloUnited”.
He added: “The team owners, captains along with the crew of the league are extremely motivated and inspired for this season and hope to make it a big success.”
This season is backed by Data Care Group. Pavan Bagnari, sales director of Data Care said: “I am very happy to support and be associated with the United Premier League. I wish all the 10 teams best of luck”.
Commercial Bank International (CBI) suffered their first defeat in four matches after losing to Nad Al Sheba Mammoths, while Jumeirah Mammoths came out on top against Zabeel in the League of Mammoths.
At the Sevens, CBI won the toss and put Nad Al Sheba in to bat. It looked a good move after their bowlers removed the top five batsmen but Sujit Salian (59), Yuvraj Kurup (21) and Sheldon D’Cruz (25) steadied the innings before Janaka Kumar (37 not out) took the match away with four massive sixes and a boundary during his brief 13 ball stay at the wicket.
CBI chased well but fell short of their target by 26 runs. Man of the match Janaka Kumar, Devrajan Srinivasan, Lucky Abbas and Hardik Pai bagged two wickets each for NAS in the 25-run victory.
Meanwhile, in another game, Jumeirah Mammoths beatn Zabeel Mammoths by seven wickets. Jumeirah won the toss and sent Zabeel into bat. Rajesh Thadani (3-20), Sunil Raheja (2-12) and Abhay Chawan (2-17) all claimed wickets but Ibtisam Mohammad (58 not out) and Kapil Gandhi (28) helped Zabeel post 137.
In their run-chase, Jumeirah struggled in their chase after Sunil Raheja (1), Abhay Chawan (2) and Shiva Pagarani (10) departed early but man of the match Sangit Gopinath (75 not out) and Vijay Mehra (34 not out) stood their ground to see their team home in 22.1 overs.