Kolkata: Fancy the sight of Sachin Tendulkar or Brian Lara walking out to bat at the Dubai International Stadium? If all goes well, it could be a reality when the second edition of Road Safety World Series T20 gets under way in India and the UAE in February-March.
After the first season in early 2020-21 proved a success in whipping up the sense of nostalgia among the fans, with the Tendulkar-led Indian team winning the trophy, promoters of the event plan to do one better this time - by staging two legs in India and the UAE. However, well-placed sources among the organisers reveal that with the Third Wave of Covid-19 sweeping India once again, there are chances that the entire event could now be shifted to Dubai.
While the surge of the pandemic has thrown the dates of the event into a bit of uncertainty, the event has been scheduled in the sporting calendar of Dubai Sports Council as a six-team affair from March 1-19 and sources confirmed to Gulf News that it has got the green signal from Emirates Cricket Board (ECB).
The Road safety World Series (RSWS) is an annual T20 tournament between retired masters of the game from major cricket playing nations — England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, West Indies and hosts India. Sunil Gavaskar is the Commissioner of the event while Tendulkar is the Brand Ambassador of the League - which has Viacom 18 are the broadcast partners while Jio and Voot are the digital partners.
Late last week, the Series received a major shot in the arm when US-based investment firm 27th Investments-backed 27th Sports signed a long term exclusive commercial rights deal with the RSWS from the second edition onwards.
Speaking on behalf of 27th Sports, headquartered in Dubai, Sangeet Shirodkar, Co-founder and CEO said in a statement: “Unlike other T20 franchisee leagues, the Road Safety World Series has a huge global appeal with legends of all cricket playing nations in the fray. It is unique and one of its kind cricketing event which not only brings the gods of cricket back to the field again, it also spreads a very important message of creating awareness towards road safety. I am extremely excited at the marketing possibility of the league and I am looking forward for a successful long-term association with RSWS.”
The annual T20 tournament, which completed its first edition during February-March last year, is the first major collaboration of 27th Investments’ recently launched $100million sports fund, 27th Sports. This deal with RSWS makes 27th Sports the sole right holders to negotiate and sell central sponsorships rights for somewhat unique cricket event in the sporting calendar.
The upcoming season will witness close to 160 international retired cricketers in action, with the likes of Jonty Rhodes, Carl Hooper, Tillekaratne Dilshan, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Australian speed merchant Brett Lee amongst other big stars. Dilshan was the Player of the Series of the inaugural edition of the RSWS, being both the highest scorer and wicket-taker.
A major part of the tournament was hosted in the Wankhede Stadium and DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai but when the second wave of Covid-19 gripped the financial capital of India, the tournament was moved to Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh International Cricket Stadium, Raipur, which also hosted the final.