Dubai: “The Abu Dhabi T10 League is set to reach out to more cricket fans,” remarked Shaji Ul Mulk, the chairman of the Abu Dhabi T10 league, who visualised this format two years ago.
Speaking to Gulf News amid preparations to stage the third edition at the Zayed Cricket Stadium from November 14 to 24 and the draw to be held on Tuesday, Mulk said: “The Abu Dhabi Government’s name getting attached to the league has taken the event to another level. We can already see the difference in the perception of the league globally. So there is a whole new level of credibility attached to it.”
Abu Dhabi T10 will also being making history. “We are proud of the fact that this is the first time ever a government is backing cricket,” added Mulk.
“Earlier, we had seen governments backing many sports like racing and tennis, but, for the first time, cricket is being backed by the government. We had two successful seasons of T10 last two years and now our focus is India and the Middle East market. We are seeing a huge change in India, for example. Sony had given us only one channel last year but are giving us four channels this year. Last year the digital platform we had zero presence, but this year all the big OTP platforms in India, except Hot Star, have come together,” said Mulk.
Mulk also revealed that more players from India will be in action. “Zaheer Khan has already confirmed and all eight Indian players that played last year will be back,” he said.
“We are in talks with Irfan Pathan and Yuvraj Singh. All the stars of the last year like Shane Watson and Eoin Morgan will be here. Lot of international cricket is happening during this time but players who are free will be here. On Sunday, Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, came on board as the official airline partner of the Abu Dhabi T10.
Mulk explained the changes in the team names and new entrants. “Kerala Knights requested a name change to Gujarati Panthers. Bengal Tigers’ name changed to Delhi Bulls and Rajputs to Karnataka Tuskers. Pakhtoons and Punjab are out and in their place Bangla Tigers and Qalandars have come in.”
Plans are also on to introduce more technology into the league. “We are trying to introduce a Hawk-Eye system,” said Mulk. “It can give a huge dimension to the T10 league. An Abu Dhabi fan village is also being created outside the stadium. It will create an environment where fans can come and relax or if they want to take a small break from cricket.”
Mulk is proud that the T10 format that he envisaged is spreading fast: “We are happy it is being adopted by many countries. The celebrity league is now a T10 format and we keep hearing about T10 leagues around the world.”