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Abu Dhabi gears up for crucial one-dayer

Zayed Cricket Stadium to host its 20th ODI when Pakistan face Australia

Image Credit: Abdul Rahman, Gulf News
Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Cricket Stadium is gearing up to host the second one-day match of the Pakistan-Australia series — the 20th 50-over international to be held at the venue since it was opened in 2004.

Fahad Akhlaq, the tournament director, told Gulf News: “Our preparations are in full swing and we will once again provide the best facilities to the players as well as spectators.”

The Abu Dhabi one-day match, scheduled for Friday, August 31, is expected to be watched by a capacity crowd. “Already we have sold over 4,000 tickets. We were expecting the sales to catch up only after Eid holidays but the response for this high-profile one-day match between these two top teams is indeed very encouraging,” said Akhlaq.

“We are happy we are hosting the second match of the series. Generally the second match of a three-match series is always the most important as it can be a decider or an equaliser.

“Regardless of the result, the players will be giving their best to strengthen their chances of winning the series. They will go full out either to gain an upper hand or regain the lost opportunity from the first game.”

Dilawar Mani, the outgoing Chief Executive of the Emirates Cricket Board, who was behind the negotiations to bring the Pakistan-Australia series to UAE, said: “The UAE has become an integral part of world cricket. For Pakistan, playing in the UAE has become a permanent feature and we are delighted to play the role of the home venue for them.”

Akhlaq is delighted that the weather in Abu Dhabi, especially during the evenings, is getting cooler. “As we start the match only by 6pm, the weather will not be hot. In fact since our stadium is not a closed one, the breeze from all around will make it very comfortable for not only the players but also the spectators. We will make sure that the grass mounds around the stadium are made more comfortable and also enough drinking water is made available for the spectators.”

Since the stadium is located away from the city, organisers are coming up with methods to ensure fans can get to and from the game. “As the match is expected to finish only after 1am, we are making special arrangements for taxis to be available half an hour before the finish,” said Akhlaq.

Abu Dhabi Cricket Club, who are the owners of the stadium, have decided to create a festive atmosphere too. “We are arranging for DJs and music to entertain fans during breaks. It is our 20th one-day match and we want to make it special, as Australia and Pakistan played excellent cricket here in April 2009.”