Kolkata: It was an exciting evening for all the stakeholders of the Abu Dhabi T-10 League as some of the biggest names of franchise cricket from around the world were snapped up by the eight franchises in the Players’ Draft at a Dubai hotel on Wednesday. The fourth edition of the event, which has grown dramatically over the last three years, will be held at Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Stadium from January 28 to February 6, 2021.
With the icon players of each team being announced on Monday, it was left to the think tanks of each team to get their combination right - digging into a huge pool of players culled largely from the West Indies, England, South Africa, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The only Indian players, till the fifth round, was the 48-year-old retired leg spinner Pravin Tambe who was snapped up by defending champions Maratha Arabians.
The upcoming edition of the tournament will have a healthy turnout of Pakistan players, who had always been big draws at all the UAE venues. Arabians, who have veteran allrounder and former Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik as their ‘icon’, locked in compatriot Mohammad Hafeez as their first choice as soon the draft was opened. Qalandars, who have Shahid Afridi as their icon, kept their faith on wily left arm seamer Sohail Tanveer while Northern Warriors booked Wahab Riaz.
The West Indies players, always top box office draws in such formats, will be starring for most teams with Kieron Pollard joining Deccan Gladiators while Nicholas Pooran and Fabian Allen were picked up by Northern Warriors.
Tom Banton, the young and exciting England opener who made a name for himself in the last Big Bash League, was locked in by Team Abu Dhabi while Sam Billings was picked up by Pune Devils. Chris Jordan, another accomplished England allrounder who is an expert death overs bowler, will be playing for Qalandars.
The battle lines were drawn earlier in the day with Maratha Arabians being clubbed with Bangla Tigers, Delhi Bulls and Northern Warriors, 2018 champions, in Group A while Group B has 2019 runners-up Deccan Gladiators, Qalandars, Team Abu Dhabi and Pune Devils.
Bangla Tigers finished third last year, followed by Qalandars – who lost the first eliminator in the Super League. Karnataka Tuskers – a team launched last year – has been rebranded Pune Devils this time.
Each of the four teams will play three matches in the group stages. A total of 12 matches will hence be held in the group stages, followed by another 12 in Super League to determine the top two qualifiers while the third and fourth-placed teams fight out in the eliminators. A total of 29 matches will be played in a span of 10 days.
Backed by Emirates Cricket Board and sanctioned by the International Cricket Council, the event is slowly capturing the imgagination of other cricket-playing nations with Sri Lanka Cricket mulling a league in this format.
Shaji Ul Mulk, Founder Chairman of the event, said: “I am delighted at the outcome of the draw for this edition. This year’s icon players and retained players make every team well balanced and this is bound to produce tough competition. We’ve had record crowds in the previous editions and we hope the government permits maximum attendance for matches in the coming edition.”
Matt Boucher, Chief Executive Officer of Abu Dhabi Cricket, added: “One of the first milestones of the fourth edition is now in the bag and this is a fantastic moment for everybody. I am extremely impressed with the icons and the platinum category stars announced by the teams. This edition will be a big achievement for the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism who will once again provide support towards the event.”
Maratha Arabians (Icon player: Shoaib Malik)
Bangla Tigers (Isuru Udana)
Delhi Bulls (Dwayne Bravo)
Northern Warriors (Andre Russell)
Deccan Gladiators (Sunil Narine)
Qalandars (Shahid Afridi)
Team Abu Dhabi (Chris Gayle)
Pune Devils (Thisara Perera)