T10 League chairman Shaji Ul Mulk is targeting more matches and Indian players in 2019 to take the league to the next level.
The second edition of the league saw the tournament increase in size, going up to eight teams playing across 12 days instead of the first edition where six teams clashed over four days.
Presence of eight Indian players, including well known names like Zaheer Khan, and the hiring of Indian Premier League honcho Arvinder Singh energised the league.
The league had received negative publicity following the resignation of PSL franchise owner Salman Iqbal as president of T10 and issues surrounding participation of contracted Pakistan players, along with financial impropriety charges on its then main sponsor Heera Group.
But after the successful conclusion of the second edition of the tournament, Shaji is looking at consolidation in 2019 but revealed there is always scope for more matches and more Indian names.
“We would like to consolidate. We have a clean slot next year – middle of October, early November. We will be working with Afghanistan Cricket Board to ensure our cricket doesn’t clash (with the Afghanistan Premier Legaue). There isn’t much cricket happening in those days, which means more international players of even higher quality coming,” Shaji told Sport360.
“Being the first league outside the IPL to have Indian players is a huge achievement. And we have done that. The Indian market is warming up to T10. These factors have given a shot in the arm to the property. Our strategy is very clear, to get more Indian players next year.”
Shaji added that while there is temptation to bringing in more teams, he is happy with the numbers in hand.
“We will like to stay with eight teams for now, it’s a good combination. We might increase number of games from 29 to 34. We are talking to different boards to have another T10 in one more country. Or even play a few existing T10 games in neighbouring countries,” he explained.
Shaji credited new chief operating officer Arvinder for streamlining the functioning of the league which has resulted in heightened commercial interest from potential investors after the league basically tripled in size after the addition of two more teams.
“Not just the logistics, but the whole scope of work tripled for us. Players had to be accommodated for 12 days, multiple matches had to be scheduled. Getting Arvinder on board as COO made a big difference. He has 10 years of IPL experience running teams like Kings XI Punjab and Gujarat Lions. He marshalled the whole cricketing affairs. Everyone could see how well the tournament was organised.
“Valuations have gone up. We have got at least six enquiries for buying partial shares in existing teams or buying news teams. It shows us the demand. It’s a valuation game more than immediate profit and loss analysis.”
Virat Kohli insists that suggestions of Australia’s vulnerability after the ball-tampering scandal are unfounded.
The star batsman leads India on their tour as they try to win their first Test series Down Under.
Australia will begin the opening Test at Adelaide on Thursday, weakened by the absence of banned duo Steve Smith and David Warner.
However, Kohli is adamant that the hosts remain formidable at home even without the batting powerhouses.
“I personally don’t think any Australian side is vulnerable at home,” he said at his pre-match press conference on Wednesday.
“You cannot take any side for granted. Whatever happened, the skill level is still there. However much you talk or behave, it’s your skill that counts.
“They still have the skill to dominate at home. We’re not taking anything for granted.”
Much is expected of Kohli in this series and recent footage of him in the nets has only served to increase the hype.
“I love coming to this ground, the city in general,” he said.
“That’s not to say that performances are always guaranteed in a certain place, but at Adelaide I feel different from many other places.”
While Australia will be looking to bring the smile back on the home fans’ faces after a dark period triggered by the ball-tampering scandal, India will be chasing a maiden series win Down Under.
Here, we look at three key battles which can prove decisive.
PUJARA V LYON
While Australia’s fearsome pace trio of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood will pose a threat to India’s batsmen, they will have to be equally wary of the threat posed by off-spinner Nathan Lyon.
The 31-year-old has always been a consistent performer on Australian pitches and complements the pace attack with his ability to tie down one end. He was the highest wicket-taker when India last toured Australia in 2013-14 with 23 wickets in the series. In fact, Lyon has been the highest wicket-taker in the last three Test series between Australia and India.
To stop Lyon from dominating, India will look towards Cheteshwar Pujara who is one of the best players of spin in the side alongside Kohli. With his quick use of the feet, Pujara has the ability to unsettle spinners from their lengths but he will have to be at his very best given he has never scored a ton on Australian soil.
KOHLI V STARC
India’s top order will have to bear the brunt of Australia spearhead Mitchell Starc’s thunderbolts. With a career strike-rate under 50 and an average just under 29, Starc is as elite a pacer as they come in Test cricket.
The 28-year-old had been sidelined due to injury but is now back to full fitness. Starc has warmed up nicely for the series after his recent limited-overs outings against South Africa and India.
He will be leading the charge against Kohli who will no doubt be the prize wicket for Australia. The India skipper loves playing in Australia and became the first visiting captain to score three centuries in a single series Down Under in 2014.
The No1 ranked Test batsman is in stupendous form in 2018 and he will be eager to end the year with a bang. For that, he will need to first pass the Starc examination.
BUMRAH V FINCH
India’s pace attack is being the considered the very best in its history and it is hard to argue otherwise. There is great depth in the tourists’ fast-bowling battery but it is Jasprit Bumrah who could be their most effective weapon on Australian soil.
Equipped with an unorthodox action, Bumrah has wasted no time in establishing himself at the Test level since making his debut during India’s tour of South Africa. He looked really good in England too and has the ability to generate some awkward bounce.
Bumrah will pose a big test for Australia’s opening batsman Aaron Finch who has only recently made his debut in the format. Finch looked tidy as an opener in Australia’s 0-1 loss to Pakistan in the UAE and has been performing well at the first-class level over the last two years.
The limited-overs stalwart will fancy himself in home conditions but he will have his work cut out against the deceptive pace of Bumrah.