Thirty-two teams will compete in this year’s edition of the FastLink Mobile T20 tournament, Abu Dhabi Cricket Club (ADCC) officials confirmed yesterday.
A total of 14 matches will be played every Friday, beginning April 11 at 08:00 and 13:45 on the domestic grounds outside Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
The teams have been split into eight groups and the top two from each pool will go to the knock-out stage.
The winners will receive Dh10,000 and the runners-up will get Dh5,000.
The tournament, which will have 63 matches in total, will be the first for new sponsors FastLink Mobile and Ace International.
Mohammed Hussein Al Nahlawi, finance and administration manager at FastLink, said: “Our goal at Fastlink is to promote sport as a social activity. We are happy to be sponsoring this tournament and we don’t want this to be our last association in cricket.”
Ankush Bedi, managing director at Ace International, added: “We are pleased to be sponsors for the tournament and it’s always been our intention to support competitions in the UAE.”
ADCC president Wajahat Husain said he expects the 2014 edition to be another successful tournament.
“Today is the beginning of a longterm association between the two sponsors and the ADCC, and I’m sure the tournament will be a success that will see a lot of competitive matches,” said Husain.
Virender Sehwag's typically rapid century ensured county champions Durham suffered a six-wicket defeat in their English season curtain-raiser against MCC in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
The former India opener made 109 off 97 balls, including a six and 18 fours, as MCC chased down a victory target of 224 in 51 overs.
England exile Samit Patel contributed a handy 48 as MCC eased to victory. MCC resumed on Wednesday's fourth and final day on 48 for two, with Sehwag nine not out.
Daniel Bell-Drummond helped Sehwag take the score to 106 before the Kent batsman was caught and bowled by Scott Borthwick (two for 77).
However, the England leg-spinner was one of several bowlers who suffered at Sehwag's hands before the dashing right-hander was caught off Jamie Harrison (two for 69).
North-east side Durham begin the defence of their First Division title away to promoted Midlands club Northamptonshire on April 13.
Traditionally, MCC played the champion county at their Lord's headquarters in north-west London but since 2010 the fixture has been staged in Abu Dhabi.
Lancashire opener Luis Reece helped MCC eke out a minor mid-match advantage in the curtain-raising fixture against county champions Durham in Abu Dhabi.
Reece (85) shared a second-wicket stand of 112 with Kent's Daniel Bell-Drummond (54) on a fluctuating second day at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
But Durham leg-spinner Scott Borthwick added figures of three for 95 to his half-century on Sunday, and then Jamie Harrison (five for 60) did the late damage as MCC nonetheless reached 282 all out in reply to 248.
Left-hander Reece, who impressed up the order at Old Trafford towards the end of last season, lost his opening partner and England Test aspirant Sam Robson lbw to promising all-rounder Usman Arshad – to end a half-century stand.
Bell-Drummond then hit seven fours in his 50 as MCC moved to 169 for two.
But wickets began to fall regularly – Borthwick chipping in first with those of Reece, MCC captain Virender Sehwag and Sri Lanka wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene.
Sehwag was caught at mid on, and Reece was then the first of two batsmen to fall on 213.
He had hit 12 fours from 196 balls by then, however, and seventh-wicket pair Ollie Rayner and Kyle Hogg ensured MCC's lead before 23-year-old left-arm seamer Harrison ran through the tail for only his second five-wicket haul in first-class cricket.
There was then still time, in just eight overs before the close, for Durham to recover from the early loss of Keaton Jennings – bowled by Hogg for a duck – to race back in front on 39 for one.