Action-packed fourth edition of Abu Dhabi T10 gets under way today - GulfToday

Action-packed fourth edition of Abu Dhabi T10 gets under way today

Abu Dhabi T10

Defending champions Maratha Arabians pose with the trophy after winning the last edition. File

Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter

The wait for fulfilment of burgeoning demands of euphoric fans for slam-bang cricket finally comes to an end as an action-packed Abu Dhabi T10 gets under way in the UAE capital on Thursday.

The top cricket stars are set to enthral the audience once again with a high-octane action which begins when the defending champions Maratha Arabians square off against Northern Warriors in a 4pm kick-off.

The fourth edition of the tournament will witness eight world-class teams engaging in a fierce duel for the top honours over a period of 10 days.

All the eight teams feature top cricketers of the world in their line-ups. The likes of Shahid Afridi, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo and Shoaib Malik are likely to set the stage on fire with their fascinating performances as the tourney transpires.

A total of 29 matches will be played during the tournament and the teams have been divided into two groups of four each. Group A features Maratha Arabians, Bangla Tigers, Delhi Bulls and Northern Warriors while Deccan Gladiators, Lahore Qalandars, Team Abu Dhabi and Pune Devils complete the Group B line-up.

The standings after the group stage will determine the fixtures of the Super League stage, which begins on Feb.1. A total of 12 matches will be played in the Super League stage. After the second round, play-offs will take place on Feb.5, followed by the grand finale on Feb.6, which will bring the curtain down on the showpiece event.

With a humble beginning four years ago with just five teams, the tourney has grown by leaps and bounds, seeing an unprecedented success both on and off the pitch.

The lucrative shortest format of the game is also considered to be cricket’s gateway to the Olympics. As all the matches are of just 20 overs, 10 overs a side and last for only 90 minutes, like a football game.

With three 10-over matches happening daily until the final night, fans can gear up for a high dose of non-stop, fast-paced cricketing action every day.

Gayle, Afridi, Malik, Narine, Pooran, Bravo, Pollard and Amir are some of the big names that will take the field for their teams.  Team Abu Dhabi will pin hopes on Gayle to give them a blistering start and set the tone for a big total. There are very few players in the world who can match the hitting abilities of Gayle.

The swashbuckling left-hander has amassed 13,584 runs in 411 T20 matches across the world. The West Indian has also smashed the most number of sixes in T20s (1,001), which is almost 400 more than the second-best.

For Qalandars, Afridi will spearhead their campaign with both bat and ball. He is one of the greatest crowdpullers and held the record of hitting the fastest ODI century for nearly two decades.

On his day, there can’t be anyone better on a cricket field, which was proven in the 2018 edition of the T10 when he hammered a 14-ball half-century in Abu Dhabi T10.

Bulls will look to capitalise on Bravo’s all-round exploits for the title push.  Bravo holds the record of taking more than 500 wickets in the T20s, having scored over 6,000 runs in the shorter format. In the last one, he led the Maratha Arabians to the Abu Dhabi T10 title and will be aiming to replicate the success with Delhi Bulls.

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 local UAE cricketers to rub shoulders with some of the global superstars, which will, in turn, accelerate the development of the UAE’s fast-evolving cricket culture.

One of the most experienced cricketers from the UAE, Rohan Mustafa, has been handed the vice-captaincy of Team Abu Dhabi, while 16-year-old Maroof Merchant has been drafted into the Maratha Arabians squad.

The Abu Dhabi T10 is not just an event for the big guns to flex their muscles. It is a platform that focuses on the collective progress of youngsters and local heroes.

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