Kolkata: After all the hype about the Abu Dhabi T10 League, it’s time for the 10-day showpiece to finally get underway from Thursday. Can Maratha Arabians become the first team to win back-to-back T10 titles or will there be a new name on the trophy? Will batsmen rule the roost or will bowlers have the upperhand?
One has to wait till February 6 to find out who will have the last laugh at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. It will be a closed door affair because of the safety protocols, but the quality of broadcast is expected to ensure that the global audience don’t miss out on the thrills and spills.
Here’s a low down of what to expect over the next few days:
29 matches in 10 days
Starting on January 28 and running through February 6, the event will have eight world-class teams, featuring some of the biggest superstars of franchise cricket - fighting it out in 29 high-intensity matches at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Cricket Stadium.
Each match will be of 20 overs, 10 overs each side, and will reach a conclusion within one and-a-half hours, making sure fans get all the thrill, action, and drama wrapped into a 90-minute package.
Eight teams have been divided into two groups of four with every team facing the other once in the group stage. The standings after the group stage will determine the fixtures of the Super League stage which begins on February 1. After 12 matches in the Super League stage, the competition gets sharper as one moves closer to the business-end of the tournament. The Play-offs will take place on February 5 followed by the final on February 6.
Eight teams, one goal
A total of eight teams from two groups will battle it out to be crowned the champions. Group A features defending champions Maratha Arabians and former champions Northern Warriors, along with the young and energetic Bangla Tigers and the Dwayne Bravo-led Delhi Bulls.
Group B is equally competitive as last season’s finalists Deccan Gladiators are drawn with Qalandars, led by Shahid Afridi and the newly formed Pune Devils, along with Team Abu Dhabi, which features the Universe Boss Chris Gayle.
Defending champions Maratha Arabians, who have assembled an entirely new squad, will begin their title defence against former champions Northern Warriors from Group A in the tournament opener, to be followed by Group B’s first match between the Pune Devils and Deccan Gladiators.
Movers and shakers
Each team features a blend of seasoned cricketers and young talents that can take their teams all the way to the summit.
Chris Gayle, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Sunil Narine, Nicholas Pooran, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard and Mohammad Amir are some of the big names that will take the field for their teams. However, the tournament also features several exciting young talents that demand attention for their impeccable achievements at a young age such as Afghan wicket keeper-batsman Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who played a vital role in Afghanistan’s recent win over Ireland and Nepal’s 16-year-old Kushal Malla, who holds the world record for being the youngest to score a One-Day International half-century.
The tournament also provides an opportunity for United Arab Emirates cricketers to rub shoulders with some of the global superstars. For instance, one of the most experienced cricketers from the UAE, Rohan Mustafa, has been handed the vice-captaincy of Team Abu Dhabi while a 16-year-old Maroof Merchant has been drafted into the Maratha Arabians squad.
Last season, nearly 6,000 runs were second, some 250 wickets fell and more than 300 sixes were smashed. In last year’s Indian Premier League (IPL), a six was scored off about every 20th ball. In Abu Dhabi T10, a six rained off every 10th ball. Twice as much!