ILT20 set for a dazzling start under Dubai's iconic Ring of Fire

The inaugural DP World International League T20 starts in Dubai on Friday

The six captains pose with the DP World International League T20 trophy at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Thursday. — Supplied photo
The six captains pose with the DP World International League T20 trophy at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Thursday. — Supplied photo

James Jose

Published: Thu 12 Jan 2023, 10:55 PM

It has to be said, it has been well worth the wait. Originally scheduled in 2022, the inaugural DP World International League T20 (ILT20) will see the light of day on Friday. And there cannot be a fitting venue than Dubai’s ‘Ring of Fire,’ the Dubai International Cricket Stadium for what should be a glittering opening.

There are so many T20 Leagues around the world and many more may be conceptualised as we speak and may hit the floor in the coming years. So, one might be tempted to ask: Why one more T20 League?

The answer is simple. This is the UAE’s own T20 League — the country’s own little baby — a baby that had been many years in the making. And to add heft like no other, the ILT20 is the second most lucrative T20 league in the world after the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Another validation is that some of the biggest franchises in the IPL have invested in the league and have drawn some of the biggest names from the world of cricket. There are 84 international players with 72 from Full Member countries.

And while it boasts of top brands, top names, the underlying theme of the league would be to help cricket grow in the UAE, a country that has always tried to punch above its weight in the cricketing world.

Put it simply, the ILT20 will do wonders for UAE cricket. The tournament runs from Friday until February 12.

It might be treading into the unknown but ahead of the tournament opener, the captains of the six franchises — Abu Dhabi Knight Riders, Desert Vipers, Dubai Capitals, Gulf Giants, MI Emirates and the Sharjah Warriors — gave their thoughts about the League.

Abu Dhabi Knight Riders captain Sunil Narine reckoned it will be challenging with the cream of stars and teams the league has drawn.

“Anything you do in cricket is challenging,” Narine said at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Thursday.

“We have to adapt and enjoy what we are doing. I hope everyone enjoys the cricket and gives their best. We have trained hard as a group in the last few days and we are absolutely ready to take on our first challenge. We have a balanced side and if we play at our best, we can certainly win more games than less. The DP World ILT20 is finally here and we are very excited to see how the tournament transpires,” he added.

Narine, who has come with his family, also believes that UAE is a great place to play cricket.

“Having family here is great as we can do a little bit of sightseeing during our downtime instead of just relaxing in the room. There are a lot of things to do in Dubai and Abu Dhabi,” said Narine.

The Abu Dhabi Knight Riders and the Dubai Capitals will make history as they will be the first two teams to kick-off the inaugural tournament.

Meanwhile, Dubai Capitals captain Rovman Powell said: “We are very excited to play our first DP World ILT20 game. We arrived here about a week ago and have acclimatised to the conditions here in the UAE. Our team has many exciting players and all of them cannot wait to showcase their magic on the park, especially on our home ground.”

Colin Munro, the captain of Desert Vipers is confident that his team can pack a punch.

“We have to look at the balance of our team. The hardest thing for us will be to find a way to fit all good players into the eleven. I just want all the boys to enjoy the cricket and their time in the UAE,” said Munro.

Meanwhile, James Vince, the skipper of the Gulf Giants, was excited about the tournament.

“We are excited to see the tournament get underway. Every team has good talent and I'm looking forward to seeing the teams play against each other. Most of my players travel from tournament to tournament and they know what to do in the coming days. It is important that they play their roles well,” Vince said.

Meanwhile, Moeen Ali, skipper of the Sharjah Warriors, said: “We'll look to play some good cricket and we are here to win. We want to do well particularly in Sharjah since it's our home ground. We'll look to enjoy the cricket and also be competitive at the same time.”

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