Stephen Fleming
Stephen Fleming, Andy Flower, Hashim Amla, Mushtaq Ahmad and Tom Moody during the Players’ draft of the Abu Dhabi T10 League in capital on Wednesday. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Team Abu Dhabi will be the eighth team in a bigger third edition of the T10 League this year (November 14-24) and will have England allrounder Moeen Ali as their icon player. The announcement was made at a colourful function for the players’ draft of the event at Dusit Thani hotel on late Wednesday evening.

Addressing a huge gathering before the draft, Shaji-Ul Mulk, founder of the league said: “Three strong entities Abu Dhabi Tourism, Abu Dhabi Sports Council and Abu Dhabi Cricket have come together to give a new home to T10 league in its third edition and it will be known as Abu Dhabi T10. We will make Abu Dhabi proud through a top sporting event like T10.”

The icon players for other teams are England’s World Cup winning captain Eoin Morgan for Delhi Bulls, Hashim Amla for Karnataka Tuskers, Darren Sammy for Northern Warriors, Shahid Afridi for Qalandars, Chris Lynn for Maratha Arabians. Shane Watson for Deccan Gladiators and Thisara Perera for Bangla Tigers.

Former New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming, coach of the Delhi Bulls, remembered the previous editions fondly: “It was fun. Half the overs from T20, it is a tough competition. Last year from the coaching point of view, I had to follow a different type of approach and different tactics. There are a lot of similarities with T20 but the bottomline is one should play under pressure.”

Amla, for whom it would be the first appearance in the T10 series, said: “ I am delighted to be playing in this format. In fact, I am reminded of playing 10-over matches with my brother in our home backyard. It will be fun.

Sri Lanka’s Perara feels that it will be a challenge for bowlers. “It is a difficult format for the bowler. I played the last edition in Sharjah, which was a small ground and it was an acid test for bowlers. Since Abu Dhabi is a bigger ground with longer boundaries, it can help bowlers. Last year, teams even got 200 and this year may be even 150 will be tough to defend.”

All teams can retain a maximum of five players. Maratha Arabians named former England coach & Zimbabwe stalwart Andy Flower as the new head coach of the franchise. Flower, who comes after finishing a 12-year stint with England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in various capacities, said: “I have just come off a tremendous run with English cricket and am now looking ahead to the future with hope. Anything that is new and is innovative like T10 cricket always has an automatic appeal. From a coaching perspective, it presents new challenges to test yourself in a world-class environment. I am looking forward to joining forces with some of the world’s best players for Maratha Arabians. I share the enthusiasm of our team owners in building a world-class franchise.”

Among the players to be drafted first in category ‘A’ were Mohammad Amir for Team Abu Dhabi while Karnataka Tuskers netted Nepal’s spin sensation Sandeep Lamichhane. Delhi Bulls got former Pakistan captain Shoaib Malek.