New heroes and rising stars to lead Maratha Arabians’ title defence

Defending champions Maratha Arabians have a mighty task at hand after a complete overhaul of their title-winning squad from the previous season. However, they have a few seasoned campaigners that can guide the new squad to glory in the upcoming season of The Abu Dhabi T10.

Here, we glance through the players in the Maratha Arabians lineup that are bound to make a difference.

Dependable hero: Shoaib Malik

The Icon Player and captain of Maratha Arabians, Shoaib Malik will have the onus of leading a newly assembled squad in The Abu Dhabi T10. It shouldn’t be a concern, though, as the all-rounder has previously led the Pakistan cricket team internationally and Sialkot Stallions in the domestic circuit.

Along with his leadership qualities, Shoaib Malik also contributes terrifically on either side of the break. The all-rounder is a beast with the bat and is equally potent with his off-break bowling. More than 11,000 international runs and over 200 wickets are a testament to the 38-year-old’s all-round prowess.

In December 2020, he played a title-winning knock that led the Jaffna Stallions to their maiden Lanka Premier League title, proving he can still deliver results, even 20 years after he first started out.

In his previous stint in the T10 League in 2017, Shoaib Malik hammered 191 runs in five matches at a superb average of 64 and strike rate of 217.

With a plethora of experience under his belt, Shoaib Malik is the senior-most player and among a few, the Maratha Arabians can depend on.

Player in-form: Laurie Evans

Although it has been over a month since Laurie Evans made an appearance on a cricket ground, he still remains one of the most in-form players of the Maratha Arabians squad. Playing in the 2020 Lanka Premier League, the Englishman slammed an unbeaten half-century for the Colombo Kings. In the match before that, Laurie Evans struck an unbeaten ton, which had nine fours and half a dozen sixes.

Even in the T20 Blast, which took place before LPL 2020, the opener was in tremendous form.

The right-handed batsman is not new to the T10 format, having played the last two editions of the tournament. In all, Laurie Evans has made 141 runs in six T10 innings at a strike rate of 171.

T10 veteran: Pravin Tambe

The Maratha Arabians have put their belief in Pravin Tambe to emulate his exploits from the 2018 edition of the tournament when he produced a record-breaking bowling effort. The leggie scalped four wickets in an over, including a hat-trick to send home Eoin Morgan, Kieron Pollard and Fabian Allen. He ended the night with astronomical figures of 2-0-15-5. Though this wasn’t the first occasion when the Indian leg-spinner has reduced batting line-ups to rubble. In 2014, Pravin Tambe had claimed a hat-trick against the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League.

The bonus of having Pravin Tambe in the lineup is his extremely low economy. Even if the 49-year-old fails to get wickets, he does enough to stop the run flow, which is of prime importance in T10 cricket and something the Maratha Arabians are certain to take advantage of.

Rising star: Alishan Sharafu

A star in the making, Alishan Sharafu is making waves in the domestic tournaments in the UAE. The 18-year-old is regularly amongst the top run-scorers in the short formats, especially T10. Representing the Fujairah Pacific Ventures, Alishan Sharafu played a vital role in the team’s run to the finals of the Emirates D10, scoring 233 runs at an average of 29.12 and a strike rate of 183.

The opener’s strength is his fluent off-side strokeplay, where the majority of his runs come from. The youngster has not had many opportunities with the national team but a good showing in The Abu Dhabi T10 will definitely put him on the selectors’ radar.