Kerala tame Bengal in T10 League opener

Sharjah – Paul Stirling’s quickfire 66 off 27 deliveries propelled Kerala Kings to a convincing eight-wicket victory against Bengal Tigers in the inaugural game of the T10 League in Sharjah on Thursday.

Earlier, Kerala captain Eoin Morgan won the toss and decided to bowl first. Bengal openers Andre Fletcher (32 not out) and Johnson Charles (33) helped Sarfraz Ahmed-led side to 86 runs for the loss of one wicket at the end of 10 overs. Wahab Riaz having Charles caught for 33.

Chasing a modest 87 to win, Stirling got Kerala off to a flying start with the Irishman plundering 10 boundaries and three sixes at a strike rate of 244.44. He had help from captain Morgan (11) and Kieron Pollard (11 not out). For Bengal, right-arm off-spinner Mujeeb Zadran was pick of the bowlers, returning figures of 1 for 15 from his two overs.


BENGAL TIGERS: 86-1 in 10 overs (Andre Fletcher 32, Johnson Charles 33).

KERALA KINGS: 90-2 in 8 overs (Paul Sterling 66*, Kieron Pollard 11).

League off to a

rollicking start

The Heera Group T10 Cricket League got off to a colourful start with some of the world’s best cricketers looking to get in on the action. The excitement of how this format may ultimately pan out was palpable in each player. The fans, most of whom had turned out in the jerseys of participating teams, added to the visual spectacle.

The spectators cheered for Sharjah’s evergreen cricket hero Shahid Afridi and India’s Virender Sehwag, two of the hardest hitters in the game who enthralled them many a time in the past. Darren Sammy, the two-time T20 World Cup winning captain, immediately on arrival at the stadium, had a net practice session and acknowledged the cheers of fans waving to the players. Dwayne Bravo, who replaced Kumar Sangakkara in the Maratha Arabians team, revealed why he agreed to come for the tournament on short notice. “This is the first T10 tournament in a beautiful country and so I could not say no.”

Six franchises — Bengal Tigers, Kerala Kings, Maratha Arabians, Pakhtoons, Punjabi Legends and Team Sri Lanka attended the opening ceremony. As the league has drawn a number of top players from England, West Indies, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Africa, Afghanistan, The Netherlands, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, and hosts UAE, the crowd too consisted of people from these countries.

Kerala Kings captain Eoin Morgan said: “There are a lot of top class cricketers here. In fact, every team is made up of superstars. It is important for these superstars to perform well for the league to do well.”

 The crowd gave a standing ovation as the players were paraded around the ground. As Waqar Younis the coach of the Bengal Tigers, said: “The number of dot balls the bowlers can bowl is very important.” In fact, Pakistan all-rounder Imad Wasim, who plays for Maratha Arabians, said: “A dot ball will be equivalent to scoring a goal in football. So I think we should call that delivery in T10 as goal ball.” The fact that each match will get over in 90 minutes will make cricket look like football, which also is played within this timespan.

Two of the legendary bowlers from Pakistan — Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis are the coaches of Maratha Arabians and Bengal Tigers respectively. In fact, Bengal Tigers team co-owner Rizwan Sajan felt that since in this format bowlers can bowl only two overs, Younis could have bowled and crowd witnessed his searing yorkers again.

This league is being staged under the aegis of the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) and given official sanction by the International Cricket Council (ICC). Two UAE players will be part of the six teams. UAE skipper Rohan Mustafa, who will play for Kerala Kings, said: “It is a big opportunity for the players to show our talent. We are taking part in the World Cup qualifiers soon and it will be good to spend some time with international cricketers and learn from them.”

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