It was short, slick and sweet, perhaps mirroring cricket’s newest format that was about to take birth. A glittering Opening Ceremony set the inaugural T10 League in motion, encapsulating the UAE as well as its diversity.
The UAE is home to many nationalities and the new League couldn’t have been a better advertisement for it with the six teams – Bengal Tigers, Kerala Kings, Maratha Arabians, Pakhtoons, Punjabi Legends and Team Sri Lanka representing different regions.
And it was heartening to see Indian, Pakistani and Sri Lankan fans braving Thursday’s rush hour traffic to stream into the iconic Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
The proceedings got rolling, quite aptly, with the UAE National Anthem ‘Ishy Bilady’ being played out. A little later, ladies in six bubbles, lined up behind the boundary ropes, at the far end, to depict the six franchises.
It was followed by a dance performance by Pakistan actors Hareem Farooq and Ali Rehman Khan performing the song ‘Billo Hai’ from the movie ‘Parchi.’
Then, it was time for the six teams to stroll out on to the lush green outfield and first up, it was the Maratha Arabians, captained by former India opener Virender Sehwag. Three couples, dressed in the traditional Marathi dress, performed to the team’s theme song ‘Alla re Aala’ as they led out the squad.
Next out were the Pakhtoons, captained by the ever popular Pathan Shahid Afridi. Dancers, dressed in the traditional Shalwar Qameez, swaying to the tune of ‘Jeet Jeet Ki,’ the team’s theme song.
Kerala Kings, captained by England’s limited-overs skipper Eoin Morgan, strode out with his team as women dressed in the traditional Kerala sari, led the way.
They were followed by the Bengal Tigers squad, with dancers attired in the traditional Bengali dress. The Bengal Tigers are captained by Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed.
Punjabi Legends, led by former Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq, were up next and were followed by Team Sri Lanka.
The ladies in the six balloons came out and performed and were joined in by dancers with different colours, depicting the UAE flag. Jugglers, drummers and dancers added to the proceedings.
Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of State for Tolerance, saw a great future for the format.
“The UAE is one of the most celebrated countries and has seen many firsts. The Dubai Rugby Sevens was born here and now we will have the latest format in cricket, which will be born here in the UAE,” Sheikh Nahyan, who is also the Chairman of the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB), said at the Opening Ceremony.
“It is 10 overs a side and is played in 90 minutes. It requires power, courage and skill. The bowlers, batsmen, fielders and the captain must be decisive as each balls counts. Time is of the essence. The T10 is destined for a great future,” he added.
Meanwhile, Shaji Ul Mulk, the founder of the League, said: “December 14 is a landmark day as it sees the world’s first ever T10 league in a historic venue like Sharjah.
Salman Iqbal, President of the League, said: “Cricket is our passion and our life. History has been created here in the UAE. Bus Ab Dus!”