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Cricket returns in UAE with Emirates D10 tournament

The inaugural Emirates D10 cricket tournament begins this week in Dubai, marking the return of cricket in the United Arab Emirates after the Covid-19 shutdown.

The Emirates D10 is being run by the Emirates Cricket Board in partnership with Indian sports marketing firm ITW Consulting, under a three-year deal. It is the UAE’s first annual domestic club cricket competition. This year’s tournament features six teams competing in 34 matches, of 10 overs each, running from this Friday, July 24 until August 7.

Matches will be played behind closed doors and with other measures in place to protect against Covid-19. Matches will be played in the evenings due to the hot weather in the UAE at this time of year.

There will be video coverage of the tournament on Emirati telco Etisalat, internet platform Cricket Gateway, and Indian digital sports platform FanCode.

Mubashir Usmani, general secretary of the Emirates Cricket Board, told Khaleej Times: “This is the first time a domestic tournament has been created by the Emirates Cricket Board…We are looking to extend it to different formats. This is a start. This will encourage the young and talented players in the UAE and also give a sense of recognition and a pathway where they can feel integrated into the system.”

Bhairav Shanth, co-founder and group CEO of ITW, said: “We are looking forward to working with Emirates Cricket Board for the long term. Emirates D10 Tournament is our first step towards partnering [with] ECB in future commercial ventures.”

The teams involved will be the UAE’s top four domestic clubs, plus two ‘Emirates Blues’ teams formed by the Emirates Cricket Board from local junior and senior players.

The organisers officially launched the tournament at a press conference last Sunday.

Khalid Al Zarooni, vice-chairman at the Emirates Cricket Board, said the tournament was an “important milestone” for cricket in the country. “It has always been a vision of the (Emirates Cricket) Board to develop and add an annual top-tier domestic tournament to the UAE calendar.” He said the board was aiming to strengthen the “depth and sustainability of UAE Cricket’s National teams across age-groups, women’s and men’s sides, well into the future”.

The UAE is set to host this year’s Indian Premier League T20 cricket tournament, pending approval from the Indian government. The BCCI wants to host the IPL overseas due to the Covid-19 situation in India. The IPL was held in the UAE in 2014, due to the schedule coinciding with a general election in India.