Dubai: Laing O’Rourke team defeated CoEX Project Team by 147 runs in the final of the third annual Expo 2020 Dubai cricket tournament at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Friday. The final was witnessed by Yuvraj Singh and Shahid Afridi, two of the biggest crowdpullers from India and Pakistan, respectively.
Laing O’Rourke posted 226 for eight in their 20 overs and then bowled out CoEX for 79. Mohammed Irfan led the way for the winners, smashing a 15-ball half century on his way to a tournament-winning 76 off 22 balls.
Yuvraj and Afridi mixed freely with over 12,000 spectators, who turned up for the final. Speaking to Gulf News, Dr Rob Cooling, Vice-President, Health, Safety, Quality and Environment of Expo 2020 Dubai, revealed how the tournament evolved into a popular one. “It was actually something that we discussed with our leadership team here at the Expo as an idea of how we can engage the workforce and one of the senior leaders suggested as to why don’t we do a cricket tournament. We never knew it would become so big. First year there was 16 teams, last year and this year we had 32 teams from our contractors, service providers, consultants that are all involved in the delivery of Expo 2020.”
When asked how much the event has brought all the workers together, Cooling said: “I think it means so much to the people here in the region. We have workers from all over the world, particularly workers from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh — where cricket is a passion. Hence, to be able to stage a tournament that brings people together is part of our Better Together programme, which has been implemented to demonstrate the care, respect and pride we hold for the tens of thousands of workers helping to build Expo 2020. The essence of this tournament is also to prove it is not all work but play too. It is about thanking the workforce for the incredible efforts they have put in every day and having some fun.”
The large turnout to watch the tournament have always created a great atmosphere. “It’s always been an incredible atmosphere. One of the things that amazes me is actually the standard of cricket with some of the contracted teams. As you get closer to the final, the excitement increases because it means so much to these teams. The opportunity to able to play in front of idols like Yuvraj Singh and Shahid Afridi at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium is special while the large turnout is an incredible motivation. Last year, we brought Virender Sehwag and Misbah-ul-Haq to witness the tournament,” added Cooling.