Maratha Arabians, the defending champions but underdogs

Hopes are high from the Maratha Arabians after their scintillating show in the last season of The Abu Dhabi T10 that saw them lift the title for the first time.

However, the defending champions have a monumental task ahead of them in the new season as they have an entirely new squad at hand. Not a single player from the title-winning squad is part of the current setup, which has an unusual mix of talent.

Their oldest player is close to 50 years of age, while their youngest is only 15.

Although it is an unusual mix that will need a colossal effort to replicate their success from the previous season, the Maratha Arabians have a few things going right for them.

A good leader can win battles

Shoaib Malik is Maratha Arabians’ Icon Player and also their captain, who surely knows how to steer a team to victory.

The squad can gain some inspiration from their skipper, who has won silverware across the world and has led the Pakistan cricket team in 41 ODIs, winning 25 of those. With a winning rate of 61 per cent, Shoaib Malik is one of the most successful Pakistan captains of all time. At the domestic level, he has also led the Sialkot Stallions to T20 glory for several years.

Shoaib Malik’s biggest achievement, however, is winning the T20 World Cup in 2009. He batted brilliantly in the big-ticket tournament and played a huge role in getting Pakistan’s first T20 World Cup. Although he was not the skipper for that tournament, he knows what it takes to win at the highest level, and will be passing down the knowledge to his team-mates at the Maratha Arabians.

Seasoned Pakistan duo

Former Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik, with over 400 international appearances under his belt, is the senior-most player in the Maratha Arabians side, ahead of fellow countryman Mohammad Hafeez, who has made over 350 appearances for Pakistan across formats. With a collective international experience of almost 40 years, the duo can guide the youngsters to achieve their full potential.

Along with the seasoned Pakistan duo, Maratha Arabians have signed the 49-year-old Pravin Tambe, who holds the record for the best bowling performance in The Abu Dhabi T10. The Indian leg-spinner scalped five wickets for just 15 runs, which included a hat-trick, in the second season.

Batting specialist Laurie Evans also has an impressive domestic resume, having scored close to 4,000 runs in T20s at an average of 35. His last two innings have unbeaten scores of 53 and 108. The Englishman would aim to continue his sublime form for the Maratha Arabians when they take on the Northern Warriors in the season-opener.

Underdogs can bite

It’s a fact that apart from a handful of players, the team lacks the international exposure needed to win big tournaments.

But we have seen underdogs come out on top on numerous occasions and, moreover, it is the T10 format, where it takes only a few deliveries to turn the game around. Furthermore, the UAE players of the squad have been playing the T10 tournament for quite some time and know the intensity of the format, which will be an advantage.

The road ahead is an arduous one, but a collective team effort and some thoughtful captaincy might just do it for the Maratha Arabians.

Maratha Arabians squad for The Abu Dhabi T10

Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez, Laurie Evans, Mussadek Hossain, Javed Ahmadi, Pravin Tambe, Ishan Malhotra, Sompal Kami, Muktar Ali, Amjad Khan Gul, Abdul Shakoor, Alishan Sharafu, Maroof Merchant, Syed Shah, Sohag Gazi, Yamin Ahmadzai

Maratha Arabians fixtures and schedule for The Abu Dhabi T10

28 January, Thursday: Maratha Arabians vs Northern Warriors

29 January, Saturday: Maratha Arabians vs Delhi Bulls

30 January, Sunday: Bangla Tigers vs Maratha Arabians