Going Out: Free entry to Desert T20

Denzil Pinto 23:19 13/01/2017
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UAE will be hoping to make the most of home conditions.

Cricket fans in the UAE can look forward to top-quality cricket when the Desert T20 gets under way Saturday without even paying a single dirham.

Afghanistan, Ireland, Scotland, Netherlands, Oman, Hong Kong, Namibia and hosts UAE are all set to feature in the six-day tournament in Dubai and Abu Dhabi with the sides looking to claim the inaugural crown.

Each day boasts double headers, with every match until Tuesday at Sheikh Zayed Stadium with the tournament moving to Dubai International Stadium from Wednesday until Friday’s Finals day. Group matches begin at 14:00 and 19:00 with the Finals day kicking off from 10:00 with both semi-finals and the final.

Dubbed as the ‘Mini World Cup’ for Associates, the names set to take to the field are impressive with Ireland skipper William Porterfield, Kevin O’Brien, big-hitter Mohammed Shahzad of Afghanistan and UAE captain Amjad Javed set to feature.

The UAE face a stern task to qualify from their group having been drawn alongside Afghanistan, Ireland and Namibia in Group A. Owais Shah’s side will fancy their chances of reigning supreme on home soil despite being ranked below both Afghanistan and Ireland. Last year, the hosts registered their first victory over the Irish in 15 years in this format before following it up with a comprehensive win against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup qualifiers.

Although Shah’s side ended 2016 on a losing note with a 3-0 T20I series whitewash at the hands of Afghanistan, they have a chance to get back to winning ways against Namibia in their opener on Sunday evening.

How to get involved

  • What: Desert T20
  • Where: Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Stadium and Dubai International Stadium
  • When: Until Friday. Matches begin 14:00 and 19:00. Finals day from 10:00
  • Contact: www.emiratescricket.com

In Group B, Netherlands are the highest ranked side in 11th but they will be wary of Scotland (13th) Oman (16th) and Hong Kong (14th) vie for the top two spots.

Given the popularity of the game and the quality of matches on the agenda, Emirates Cricket Board (ECB), which is hosting the competition, insists it’s an opportunity not to miss for any cricket fan.

“There are top Associate nations competing including Scotland, Ireland and Afghanistan and I think it will be very competitive games and hopefully very soon, one of these nations will become a Test-playing nation as well,” said Mazhar Khan, ECB administrator.

“There is a lot of talented players in these countries. As it’s a T20, it’s a shorter version and it will be good for cricket fans in the UAE to watch these good cricketers and support the UAE team. It will be good to watch some great matches on our doorstep.”

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