|Finished.131/5 (10) - 127/2 (10)|
It’s rare for any sport to see a completely different top-level competitive mode, but being a game with plenty of variables, cricket has seen its third new variant in 50 years, and second in about 2 decades. This one will be the shortest format yet, and promises plenty of action-packed bite-sized games that make the spectacle less time consuming and more fast-paced. It all starts with a star-studded array of 8 teams near the desert sands of Abu Dhabi. Two groups of four teams from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and the UAE itself are ready with players from all around the globe to help them take the title of this bold, prestigious tournament. The first of these matches will be between defending champions from the 2019 iteration Maratha Arabians, and the Northern Warriors, and before this opening engagement comes to pass, let’s take a look at the two teams.
Shoaib Malik (c/wk), Taskin Ahmed, Muktar Ali, Laurie Evans, Amjad Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Mosaddek Hossain, Sompal Kami, Ishan Malhotra, Maroof Merchant, Syed Haider, Abdul Shakoor, Pravin Tambe.
MA Predicted XI
Shoaib Malik (c/wk), Taskin Ahmed, Muktar Ali, Laurie Evans, Amjad Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Mosaddek Hossain, Sompal Kami, Ishan Malhotra, Syed Haider, Pravin Tambe.
MA Preview and form
In stark contrast to their team from the previous season, the Arabians have only a handful of big-name players in the squad, and will be relying heavily on underdogs or little-known players to fuel their campaign. Those big names are all in the batting department; namely Shoaib Malik, Laurie Evans, and Mohammad Hafeez. They will be supported by a trio of Bangladeshi talents - all-rounders Muktar Ali and Mosaddek Hossain, and bowler Taskin Ahmed. Now comes the most interesting parts of the team: Nepali all-rounder Sompal Kami, and the oldest professional cricketer in the world - Indian spinner Pravin Tambe. If these two play well, the team might turn out to be the dark horse of the tournament. Lastly, there are also a group of players from the UAE whom we’ll have to reserve judgement on until we actually see them perform.
Key players vs NW
Shoaib Malik: The Pakistani stalwart will be leading the Arabians, and he will have to be consistent for his team.
Laurie Evans: The English powerhouse will be looked upon for his hard-hitting ways.
Mohammad Hafeez: It’s not just Hafeez’s batting that will be important, but being a terrific spinner, his bowling as well.
Taskin Ahmed: This will be an important moment in Taskin’s career, with good performances having the potential to reverse the slump it has been on for many years now.
Andre Russell (c), Fabian Allen, Rayad Emrit, Brandon King, Nicholas Pooran, Rovman Powell, Nuwan Pradeep, Wahab Riaz, Junaid Siddique, Lendl Simmons, Ansh Tandon, Maheesh Theekshana, Amir Yamin.
Amir Yamin (c/wk), Fabian Allen, Rayad Emrit, Brandon King, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Rovman Powell, Nuwan Pradeep, Wahab Riaz, Junaid Siddique, Lendl Simmons, Andre Russell.
NW Preview and form
Featuring an entire contingent of West Indians, Northern Warriors is starred by T20 maestro Andre Russell, who needs no introduction. Brandon King, Lendl Simmons, Nicholas Pooran, and Rovman Powell will form the backbone of the batting alongside their star, and most of these players also double as bowlers. The pure bowlers of the Warriors are pretty good too, with Pakistani Wahab Riaz and Sri Lankan Nuwan Pradeep standing out, and Emirati Junaid Siddique and St Kitts and Nevis Patriots captain Rayad Emrit backing them up. By far the most odd pick seems to be the captain of the side, Pakistani domestic all-rounder Aamer Yamin. He will be in command of a powerful squad, and needs to step up to the challenge smartly.
Key players vs MA
Andre Russell: The power-packed all-rounder had a pretty dull IPL, and will want to get back to his usual destructive ways.
Nicholas Pooran: As hard a hitter as they come, Pooran must overcome his inconsistency to help his team.
Wahab Riaz: The aging fast bowler is nearing his last hurrah, and he’ll want to leave behind an even greater legacy.
Junaid Siddique: Local boy Junaid Siddique will want to make an impression to rise up the ranks of the growing UAE cricket scene.
MA vs NW weather conditions and pitch report
There’s a tiny, tiny chance of rain that might pause proceedings for a small duration, but most of tomorrow should be smooth sailing with cool temperatures and some clouds in the evening sky. There will be a slight breeze blowing and moderate humidity, but neither should affect the game in any way.
As demonstrated by the matches between Afghanistan and Ireland, the pitch and ground are a little more favourable for bowlers than batsmen, with both pacers and spinners making use of the often changing pace of the ball off the pitch along with the turn available. Nevertheless, given the format, it is extremely hard to predict a score. Expect scores of 100+ to be difficult to chase.
Can the Arabians challenge their underdog status with an important win? Or will the Warriors walk over them with their sheer on-paper might? Find out if our Maratha Arabians vs Northern Warriors predictions come true on Thursday!
|MA Top Batsman:|
|NW Top Batsman:|
|MA Top Bowler (Wickets):|
|NW Top Bowler (Wickets):|
|Players to score a fifty:|
|L Evans/S Malik (MA), L Simmons/A Russell (NW)|