December 14, Thursday, 7.38 p.m. The date and time stamp was a watershed moment, a path-breaking one.
As Sohail Tanvir of the Kerala Kings charged in from his run-up to bowl at Andre Fletcher of the Bengal Tigers, history was made at a venue, already steeped so much in history.
The iconic Sharjah Cricket Stadium saw the birth of cricket's newest baby - the T10 League. An array of film actors from India's Bollywood as well as Pakistan added star dust, reminding one of those heady days in the 90s.
And they, as well as the fans were witness to many a first on the night. The first toss, the first dot ball, the first single, the first boundary, the first six, the first appeal, the first wicket, and the first win.
And in befitting the occasion, Paul Stirling lit up the League with the first half-century as the Kerala Kings defeated the Bengal Tigers by eight wickets.
The 27-year-old Irishman smacked an unbeaten 66 from 27 balls, peppered with 10 boundaries and three sixes as the Kerala Kings got home with two overs to spare. Kieron Pollard remained unbeaten on 11 from nine balls.
Bengal Tigers' Marchant de Lange was walloped, with the South African pace bowler conceding 36 from two overs as Stirling ran amok. Chasing a target of 87, the Kerala Kings lost opener Chadwick Walton for nought off the third ball bowled by Aamer Yamin, edging to captain and wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed, and were in further trouble after captain Eoin Morgan fell leg before to Mujeeb Zadran.
Morgan, the England limited-overs captain had looked solid until then, making 11 from nine balls with two boundaries.
Earlier, Morgan won the first toss of the League and invited the Bengal Tigers to make first use of the surface.
And the Tigers were well served by their openers Andre Fletcher and Johnson Charles after each David Miller added the finishing touches as the racked up 86 for one.
Fletcher and Charles mustered 56 for the opening wicket before the latter became the first wicket to fall in the League. Charles wafted at Wahab Riaz and got an edge which was gobbled up by wicketkeeper Nicholas Pooran. Charles had cracked 33 from 27 balls with four boundaries and a six.
Earlier, the West Indians pair had taken the Tigers to 42 for no loss in five overs with Charles on 25 from 17 balls, with three boundaries and a six. Fletcher was on 15 from 13 balls with two boundaries.
Liam Plunkett was the most expensive bowler then, having conceded 13 runs from his first over. The others hadn't leaked as much with Tanvir and Riaz giving away six runs, while Kieron Pollard had conceded nine and Ryad Emrit eight runs.
The openers had moved the Tigers along to 56 in seven overs after which the Kings' camp had a bit of a chat to rework their strategy and tactics. And that seemed to have worked as Riaz got Charles to fish at one and edge to Pooran. Miller walked in and joined Fletcher and helped take the score to 61 in eight overs.
The Tigers eventually wound up at 86 with Fletcher unbeaten on 32 from 24 balls with three boundaries and a six, while Miller made an unbeaten 17 from nine balls with two boundaries and a six.
Plunkett conceded 22 from his