The first day of action at the Aldar Properties Abu Dhabi T10 has shot off with three tension filled and electrifying matches, wowing fans and crowds in Abu Dhabi. His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance, attended the opening night of the championship, addressing crowds and watching the home side, Team Abu Dhabi’s, very first match.
His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan’s visit to Zayed Cricket Stadium came ahead of the International Day of Tolerance on November 16. Being the custodian of the Tolerance Cup, which wrapped up an eight week tournament, H.E. Sheikh Nahyan spoke on the importance of cricket and sport fostering tolerance and unity. His Excellency presented the winners of the Tolerance Cricket Cup, His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan’s very own cricketing league designed to foster tolerance in the UAE, with the winning trophy after the conclusion of the tournament, alongside touring the stadium and meeting fans of T10 cricket watching the action from the stands.
The night’s cricketing action saw the reigning champions, the Northern Warriors, cement victory over Dwayne Bravo’s Maratha Arabians, the Delhi Bulls snatch triumph from the hands of the Deccan Gladiators, and Team Abu Dhabi and Team Qalandars draw in a tight final game between the two finely matched sides.
Match Report 1 – Northern Warriors vs. Maratha Arabians
The Northern Warriors were ruthless in their defence of the Aldar Properties Abu Dhabi T10 trophy. Winning the toss, they elected to field, bringing a fierce bowling attack against the Maratha Arabians. Opener Adam Lyth was dismissed on the very first ball by Chris Wood, and was followed by Chris Lynn on four and Chadwick Walton on 24. Renowned Indian cricketer, Yuvraj Singh, was blasted away by the bowling attack for six, leaving the Arabians on 35 for four after four short overs. All-rounders James Fuller and Dasun Shanaka tried to steady the ship, but both Fuller and then Wanindu Hasaranga lost their wickets. Arabians’ captain Dwayne Bravo desperately tried with Shananka to push their score higher, but the Arabians posted a target of 88 to chase.
England’s Sam Billings and Scotland’s George Munsey met legendary bowler Lasith Malinga at the crease to begin the Northern Warriors’ chase. The two batsmen played cautiously, and only scored 10 runs before Billings lost his wicket. Yet Billings’ wicket brought Russell out to the crease, who brought his classic big cricket to score his half-century in 21 balls. The Arabians’ bowling strategy was left in tatters after Malinga bowled three no-balls and one leg-bye in the space of an over. Munsey and Malinga smashed their way to 91 runs, winning the match for the Arabians by nine wickets with 18 balls remaining.
Speaking after the match, Player of the Match, the Northern Warriors’ Andre Russell commented: “It’s a good way to start the tournament, as defending champions. We batted and bowled well, and restricted them to 89, and that was our game plan. T10 is quick and spicy, and I don’t feel any nerves going out to bat, but bowling brings a lot of pressure, because you have to get the delivery right. Otherwise, the batsmen will be in business.”
Captain of the Maratha Arabians, Dwayne Bravo, said: “I think the fans got a good game of cricket for the opener, but unfortunately we finished on the losing side, but it hasn’t been a bad outing. It’s really good that the tournament has shifted to Abu Dhabi.”
Match Report 2 – Deccan Gladiators vs. Delhi Bulls
The Deccan Gladiators were put into bat by the Delhi Bulls, who won the toss. Afghan wicketkeeper Mohammad Shahzad and the iconic Shane Watson opened the Gladiators’ batting, but Shahzad lost his wicket to Dushmatha Chameera at the end of the second over, leaving the Gladiators on 17. Kiwi batsman, Anton Devcich, joined Watson to bring some big Australasian hitting to the match. Watson smashed seven boundaries, wowing crowds, as the likes of Adil Rashid and Zaheer Khan tried to stymy the Gladiators. However, after some dropped dollys in the outfield, the Bulls couldn’t constrain Watson from a half century, and the Gladiators knocked 102 runs for 1.
Ireland’s Paul Stirling and Sri Lanka’s Kusal Perera began an aggressive chase for the Bulls, with Sterling scoring two sixes. Zahir Khan struck on his fifth delivery, as his ball hit Sterling plumb on the pads for 12. Muhammad Usman and Perera tried to find boundaries, but both were dismissed in the third over by the lightning balls of Zahir. Their dismissals brought out cricketing legends Angelo Mathews and Eoin Morgan, who worked on building a steady partnership before smashing balls for boundaries. The two frustrated the efforts of Gladiators’ bowlers, including Mason Crane and Zahoor Khan, as Morgan pulled 47 runs off 24 deliveries. The pair brought the Delhi Bulls’ score to 103, winning the game by seven wickets with a tight three balls remaining.
Eoin Morgan, captain of the Delhi Bulls, said in the post-match press conference: “I thought it was a tough chase, and very difficult out there to find our timing. But we managed with some luck to take our catching opportunities, and hold our nerves in such a short space of time, and now we have that all important momentum to carry us forward. I’m enjoying this format so far, and I’m really enjoying my cricket at the moment, and off the back of a successful series in New Zealand, confidence is high, and all my experience tells me that you need to make the most of the momentum you have built up.”
Speaking after the match, Deccan Gladiators’ captain, Shane Watson commented: “Ever since I first played in Abu Dhabi in 2009, I have loved playing here. It’s a beautiful wicket, and a beautiful city to host cricket, and everyone including me is delighted that the T10 has moved here for the next few years. I think it would’ve have been nice to have got 10 to 15 more runs on the scoreboard. We struggled towards the end our innings to clear the boundary - credit to the bowling of Delhi Bulls.”
Match Report 3: Team Abu Dhabi vs. Team Qalandars
After Team Qalandars elected to field, former captain of Sri Lanka Niroshan Dickwella opened Team Abu Dhabi’s batting, hitting big to bring the home side the upper hand in the game, but his expansive batting led to a big wicket for the Qalandars when he was dismissed for 17. Team captain Moeen Ali joined opener Luke Wright at the crease, adding 23 to Team Abu Dhabi’s total, but Moeen was caught on a dolly shot for 7 in the third over. Kiwi Corey Anderson joined Wright in Team Abu Dhabi’s innings at 42 for 4 overs, and worked to push for a high target to post for the Qalandars. Wright was dismissed for 11, being replaced by Nepalese big hitter Paras Khadka. The batsman worked hard against a restrictive bowling line up, but Anderson lost his wicket, after attempting to flick the ball to third man, on 43 off 22 balls. Qalandars got a final wicket with a run out on the final ball of the innings, leaving Team Abu Dhabi to post 103 for six in their first ever cricket match.
England rising star Tom Banton and New Zealand’s Luke Ronchi began the Qalandar’s chase with defensive playing, peppered with boundaries. Banton was struck on the pads by Richard Gleeson for 16, bringing on Qalandar’s captain Dawid Malan. Malan and Ronchi built a cautious partnership of 39 runs before Australian Ben Laughlin caught Captain Malan on 33. Ronchi and Phil Salt continued to build Qalandar’s partnership, inching closer to Team Abu Dhabi’s target of 103, and were eight runs away at the start of the final over. A boundary from Salt left Team Abu Dhabi fans in despair, as Qalandars required two runs to win, but South African bowler Marchant de Lange struck with the next ball, dismissing Salt for 22. The final ball of the match, delivered to Seekkuge Prasanna led to one run for Qalandars, and a drawn match between the two finely balanced teams, each posting a total of 103.
Captain of Team Abu Dhabi, Moeen Ali, said after the match: “We knew from the start that it was going to be a tight game and it was, and our belief carried us through that last over which was bowled beautifully. In those moments it’s important as a captain to keep my composure, and deliver a clear message to the team.”
Dawid Malan, captain of Team Qalandars, commented: “We are disappointed we didn’t come away with the win being in the strong position that we were coming up to last couple of overs but I’ll take a tie over a loss. I love the T10 format; it’s such an amazing way for cricket to adapt in order to attract more fans to the ground. The entertainment factor it provides gives it a big chance to become a regular fixture in the cricketing calendar and even make it all the way to the Olympics.”
The Aldar Properties Abu Dhabi T10 action returns tomorrow night, with the Deccan Gladiators facing off against the prowling Bangla Tigers, the Delhi Bulls charging against the might of the Karnataka Tuskers, and Team Qalandars up against the fierce Northern Warriors. The tournament, which will run through to 24 November, is being broadcast in India on Sony Six and Sony Ten 3. To purchase tickets and hospitality passes, please visit: https://www.q-tickets.com/AbuDhabit10