The stage is set for an exhilarating and intense battle in the DP World ILT20 season 2 play-offs between the teams that clinched the top four slots, starting from Tuesday.
The league stage matches were so fiercely fought that the final four could not be ascertained until the last league match held in Sharjah on Sunday.
All 30 league-stage matches produced the best of cricket with many last over and last ball finishes including a last ball-six smashed by Sikandar Raza that put Dubai Capitals in a commanding position to make the final four ahead of Sharjah Warriors and Desert Vipers who finished at the bottom of the points table.
Cricket buffs in UAE can gear up for an exciting week of action as the top four teams prepare to produce some nail-biting contests starting with the Eliminator on 13 February (Tuesday) between Abu Dhabi Knight Riders and Dubai Capitals at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi, followed by the Qualifier 1 between MI Emirates and Gulf Giants to be played at the Dubai International Stadium on 14 February (Wednesday).
Qualifier 2, between the winner of the Eliminator and the loser of Qualifier 1, will be held at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on 15 February (Thursday) while the grand finale will be held at the Dubai’s ‘Ring of Fire’ Stadium on 17 February.
The intensity of the upcoming clashes can be gauged by the fact that except for MI Emirates, who notched up 12 points from six wins, all the other teams had hit the rock bottom of the table and then fought back to qualify for the play-offs. Defending champions Gulf Giants finished second on the points table with 12 points while Abu Dhabi Knight Riders and Dubai Capitals placed third and fourth respectively with 10 points each.
The DP World ILT20, with a total prize money of $1.3 million, will see the winners walk away with a whopping $700,000 while the runners-up receive $300,000.
The contest for the players who produced their best is also being keenly fought. The best batter with most runs will receive the Green Belt and the bowler with most wickets will win the White Belt while the most valuable player will be awarded the Red Belt.
The contest for the Blue Belt for the best UAE player also has many contenders in this edition. All the belt winners will receive $15,000 each.
In the first edition, Alex Hales won the Green Belt, Chris Jordan bagged both White and Red Belt and Muhammad Waseem had won the Blue Belt.
All Player of the Match winners as well as the Biggest Six of the Match receive $1500 each.
The large turnout for all the matches of this edition reflected the increasing following for this tournament. Cricket lovers are in for a treat over the next few days, and they will look forward to whether Abu Dhabi Knight Riders will be able to ride to victory or whether Dubai Capitals, by capitalizing on their skills, will pull off a victory in the Eliminator.
Qualifier 1 will see whether last year’s winners Gulf Giants can produce their best and walk tall over MI Emirates, which has played brilliant cricket so far in this edition.
MI Emirates skipper Kieron Pollard, who has the ammunition to hit big runs, said: “Winning is a habit and so is losing. Going forward we need to try and plan well. It is a matter of planning and execution.”
Gulf Giants skipper James Vince, who has shown the way through big scores, and is happy with the way his players have risen to the challenge, remarked: “Our last four games have been magnificent. The last two games, we were in the game and when our opponents were ahead in the game, we showed a lot of character to fight back.”
Vince will want his players to display their same fighting spirit in the play-offs.
Abu Dhabi Knight Riders skipper Sunil Narine, after a win, had said about how he goes about to win matches: “We tick a lot of boxes. Start with picking up wickets in the powerplay, and that sets the tone
Sam Billings, skipper of the Dubai Capitals, enters the playoffs, fully aware of his team’s drawbacks and strengths. After his team’s last match, he’d said: “If you look at this tournament, it is about trends. The key area where we have struggled is the powerplay. As regards our bowling, everyone wants the ball and that is always a positive.”
Afghanistan A cricket team to tour Sri Lanka in April
Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) on Friday announced that the nation’s A team is scheduled to play five One Day matches and one four-day match against Sri Lanka from April 28 to May 14.
Afghanistan A will arrive in Sri Lanka on April 25 and kick off their tour with a One Day match against the Sri Lanka A side on April 28. Other four One Day matches are scheduled to be played on April 30, May 3, May 5, and May 7.
Following the One Day matches, a one-off four-day match is slated to be held from May 11 to May 14.
The venues for these matches are yet to be confirmed.
Naseeb Khan, CEO of ACB, expressed his satisfaction with the consistent engagement of the Afghanistan A squad in bilateral events and multi-nation events. He highlighted the importance of providing ample exposure to the A team, which serves as the backup for the senior national team.
“The ACB remains committed to facilitating as much exposure as possible for the AfghanAtalan (A team) squad, which comprises our talented young cricketers,” he added.
Afghan MMA fighter to face his Israeli rival
Hussain Bakhsh Safari, Afghanistan’s free fighting athlete – in the Legacy Fighting Association – is scheduled to enter the cage against his Israeli rival, Koren, early next month.
Safari said in a post on X that the fight between him and his opponent is scheduled to be held on March 8 in the city of Santa Cruz, in the US.
Safari added that it’s happening in America, to create happiness and being smiles to “all our dear compatriots”.
He said this fight comes after a short break.
“Finally, after a short break due to immigration and travel plans, now with the blessings of you noble people who have always followed me, I will enter the fighting ring,” said Safari.
He said that he hopes the fight will bring happiness to his countrymen back home.
Head of Sports Administration attends opening ceremony of Kazan’s ‘Games of Future’
The General Director of Physical Education and Sport of Afghanistan (GDPES) Mawlavi Ahmadullah Wasiq participated in the opening ceremony of the Games of Future competition hosted by Tatarstan-Kazan.
On the sidelines of the ceremony, Wasiq also met with the Ministers of Sports of Russia and Tatarstan.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and other officials also participated in the opening ceremony, GDPES said in a post on X.
According to GDPES the competition started on February 21 and will continue until March 3.
Nearly 2,000 athletes from 107 countries will take part in the games and will compete in 21 sports.
The Next Generation Sports competition is a new series of sports competitions, which for the first time officially starts in Kazan.
The combination of these sports includes digital and classical sports, GDPES said.
Putin said during his opening speech that sport is meant to create unity between countries and nations and should not become political.
On the sidelines of the ceremony, Wasiq meanwhile met with the minister of sports of Russia, Oleg Matisin, and the minister of sports of Tatarstan, Vladimir Leonov.
Cooperation in sport and sport development was discussed.
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