Chirag Suri boasted of a strike-rate of 300 during the opening match of Emirates D10 tournament on Friday. Image Credit: Supplied photo

Dubai: The inaugural Emirates D10 cricket tournament got underway to an exciting start in Dubai on Friday, marking the return of cricket in the United Arab Emirates after four months of shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chirag Suri, the UAE national team opener, and Vritya Arvind shone in two of their day’s matches for the ECB (Emirates Cricket Board) Blues, the representative team of the UAE cricket board at the ICC Academy grounds. ECB beat Team Abu Dhabi convincingly by 45 runs in the opening match of the tournament while their second match of the day against Dubai Pulse Secure ended in a tie.

Interestingly, ECB Blues still were adjudged the winners of the ‘tied’ match on the merit of more boundaries hit - they had hit 19 of them as against 15 by Dubai Pulse (remember the 2019 ICC World Cup final?). The rules of the tournament say Superovers will be used only in case of eliminators and finals.

In the first match against Team Abu Dhabi, Suri and former UAE captain Rohan Mustafa made full use of the first strike after being sent into bat by Team Abu Dhabi. Suri picked up sixes (nine) and fours (three) at will to score 81 off 27 deliveries while Mustafa scored a brisk 30 before the latter was the first wicket to fall at 55. In reply, Team Abu Dhabi’s Rameez Shehzad plundered 53 runs (four boundaries, five sixes) while Usama S.Shah scored 44 (five fours, two sixes) but they fell 45 runs short in the chase.

The last match of the day witnessed enough drama when batting first, ECB Blues rode on an attacking innings of 83 from young Vritya Arvind (29 balls, seven fours and as many sixes) to finish their innings at 126 for three off 10 overs. Dubai Pulse Secure lost their way to finish at exactly the same score, but ECB were awarded full points on the merit of higher number of boundaries hit.

In two other matches of the day, Sharjah Bukhatir XI swept Fujairah Pacific Ventures by nine wickets while Team Abu Dhabi beat Ajman Alubond by eight wickets. The Emirates D10 is being run by the Emirates Cricket Board in partnership with Indian sports marketing firm ITW Consulting, under a three-year deal. It is the UAE’s first annual domestic club cricket competition, featuring six teams competing in 34 matches of 10 overs each and will run till August 7.

Mubashir Usmani, general secretary of the Emirates Cricket Board, said at the launch a few days back: “This is the first time a domestic tournament has been created by the Emirates Cricket Board…We are looking to extend it to different formats. This is a start. This will encourage the young and talented players in the UAE and also give a sense of recognition and a pathway where they can feel integrated into the system.”

Brief Scores: ECB Blues beat Team Abu Dhabi by 45 runs. ECB Blues 164/5 off 10 overs (C.Suri 81, R. Mustafa 30) vs Team Abu Dhabi 119/4 (R. Shehzad 53, Usama S.Shah 44).

Sharjah Bukhatir XI bt Fujairah Pacific Ventures nine wickets. Fujairah 111/7 off 10 overs vs Sharjah Bukhatir XI 114/1 off 7.5 overs (Khalid Shah 43, Renjith Mani 47).

Team Abu Dhabi beat Ajman Alubond by eight wickets. Ajman Alubond 98/8 vs Team Abu Dhabi 99/2 off 8 overs.

ECB Blues ‘tied’ with Dubai Pulse Secure. ECB Blues 126/3 off 10 overs (V. Arvind 83 n.o.) vs Dubai Pulse Secure 126/4 off 10 overs (Faisal Amin 31).