T10: Shortest format braced for explosive start

For the last few months, the cricketing fraternity has been abuzz with discussions on whether reducing cricket to a ten-over affair is justified.

Vijender Sehwag trains at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Wednesday. Photo: Maratha Arabians

120 balls. 90 minutes.

Perhaps, it can’t get shorter than this. When the inaugural edition of the T10 Cricket League gets underway at the Sharjah International Stadium from Thursday, the six teams would be in for a fiery contest in the stipulated time-frame.

For the last few months, the cricketing fraternity has been abuzz with discussions on whether reducing cricket to a ten-over affair is justified. But then, with the organisers and some of the leading names of the game backing the format, the league has certainly grabbed eyeballs.

December 14December 15 December 16December 17

Opening ceremony, 7:30 p.m.

Followed by:

Bengal Tigers v Kerala Kings

Maratha Arabians v Pakhtoons

Bengal Tigers v Punjabi Legends, 5:30 p.m.

Maratha Arabians v Team Sri Lanka, 7:30 p.m.

Punjab Legends v Kerala Kings, 9:30 p.m.

Pakhtoons v Team Sri Lanka, 11:30 p.m.

1st in Group A v 3rd in Group B, 5:30 p.m.

3rd in Group A v 1st in Group B, 7.30 p.m.

2nd v Group A v 2nd in Group B, 9.30 p.m.

5/6th place playoff, 11:30 p.m.

1st semifinal (Team 1 v Team 4), 7:00 p.m.

Followed by:

Second semifinal and final

All times are IST

After all, it is the first time that a Virender Sehwag or a Eoin Morgan would battle it out in just ten overs. In this format each innings will last 45 minutes, and any bowler is allowed only a maximum of two overs.

The four-day tournament will be played in round-robin cum knockout format. There will be penalty for slow over rate, while the stumps will have LED bails.

All those elements would, for sure, make the game interesting.

Initially, the tournament organisers had thought of conducting the league with the pink ball, but things changed after erstwhile India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni advised the T10 league curator Shaji-ul Mulk to opt for white ball. “Dhoni’s suggestions have been taken and with so many big names around, we are hopeful of making the league a success,” Mulk told Sportstar.

Mulk also is of the impression that the success of the shortest format of the game would eventually pave the way for cricket in Olympics. “This is one format which is well suited and even cricketers like Sehwag have vouched for it,” Mulk said.

While the tournament will see current players such as Sarfraz Ahmed, Dinesh Chandimal, Eoin Morgan, Shakib al Hasan and Mohammad Amir in action, former superstars Sehwag and Shahid Afridi will join them. Even Kumar Sangakkara was roped in earlier, but the former Lankan skipper opted out last month, forcing the Maratha Arabians to bring in Dwayne Bravo as his replacement.

Sehwag, the only Indian representation in the tournament, will lead the Maratha Arabians franchise.

Earlier, Sportstar had reported that quite a few Indian cricketers wanted to play the league, but their requests were shot down by the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

Being held under the aegis of the UAE Cricket Board, the tournament also has necessary permissions from the International Cricket Council.

The iconic Sharjah Cricket stadium will be playing host to the tournament and the Sharjah Cricket Club officials are hoping to get the tournament off to a flying start. “The preparation is on in full swing and we are getting ready for a new format of cricket altogether. We will know how the (wickets) behave once the tournament gets underway,” Sharjah Cricket Club general manager, Mazhar Khan, told Sportstar on Wednesday.

A decade ago, when the Indian Premier League got underway, the cricket purists were unsure of its prospect. But over the years, it has taken cricket to a new dimension. And now, with the game getting more condensed, the organisers are hopeful of taking the sport to a new dynamic.

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