It will be a challenge with a difference for the newly formed Danube Lions when they make their international debut by taking on Netherlands in a Twenty20 match for the 'Friendship Cup' at the ICC Global Cricket Academy Oval No.2, Dubai on Thursday December 6 commencing at 7pm.
This unique floodlit match which organisers hope will be annual affair is expected to kickstart the Dutch team's winter tour of UAE and India.
Danube Group, the undisputed kings of indoor cricket in the UAE, have made a smooth transition to spread their wings in the more traditional formats of the game.
The sky seems to be the limit for the founder of Danube Lions Anis Sajan, Managing Director of Danube Group, whose passion for the sport has no boundaries.
"We are honoured to host the first ever T20 match between Danube Lions team and Netherlands national team and hope to play against various other international teams with the support of the cricket fraternity in the UAE,” said Anis at the launch of the event at gala ceremony at
Grand Hyatt, Dubai on Tuesday.
"Tomorrow, in future we might play with teams like Pakistan and England who come here to play international cricket," he added.
Anis said the boys were excited being aware of the magnitude of the occasion since the Dutch have beaten likes of England in the Twenty20 World Cup.
"With this experience, my boys will get good exposure playing turf cricket with team like Netherlands. I'm sure they will give Netherands a run for their money," he said.
Such is the seriousness they attach to this one-off match that Danube Lions have even hired former Sri Lankan international Ajith Weerakkody as coach of the side.
"It is a challenging role but I don't have to teach them how to play cricket. My focus will be on improving their fitness and mental strength," said Weerakkody who has been appointed initially for three months.
"It's not very difficult but tough because they are at international level. We haven't played against such team. I just have to motivate them mentally," he said.
Being masters of indoor cricket for the last ten years, Danube Lions team has won several accolades such as Indoor Cricket Summer Cup, Ramadan Cup, Pehla Indoor Cup and has claimed the recent title for DBMSC Tournament as well.
Featuring experienced cricketing stars, team Danube Lions comprises of captain CTK Mashood, Prashant Braggs, Bakhtiyar, Vikrant Shetty, Sameer Nayak, Haroon Iftikhar, Syed Maqsood, Devendra Taneja, Mohd Asif Iqbal, Shibith, Samiullah, Andre and Ajmal.
“It is a great honour to play with an international cricket team like Netherlands. We have a very good all round balanced side and well experienced. It's a very good opportunity to lead such a good side comprising different nationalities. We are confident presenting a good show at the day of the match,” said skipper Mashood.
Anis also announced that Danube will represent UAE in an indoor international tournament at Insportz in Al Quoz beginning on December 10 featuring teams from India and South Africa apart from three local sides.
The ceremony was graced by Rizwan Sajan, Founder and Chairman of Danube Group, Adel Sajan, Director of Danube Buildmart, Peter Drinnen, Netherlands coach, Ed Van Nerop, Netherlands Team Manager, Robert Broedelet, Country Manager, ABN AMRO Bank, Mazhar Khan from Emirates Cricket Board, Mohammad Lokhandwala from Dubai Cricket Council and Salman Hanif from ICC Global Cricket Academy.
“Thank you all for the warm welcome. It is a brilliant opportunity to play with an experienced corporate team as Danube Lions. Dubai is credited to be the best sports city having world-class cricket facilities and it would be a pleasure to play with the team frequently. These overseas tours have helped our team to perform consistently and enjoy the real flavour of international cricket. I am confident we will be able to play good competitive cricket and may the best team win,” said Van Nerop.
The Netherlands Team comprises Peter Drinnen (coach), Peter Borren (captain), Ed van Nierop Manager, Rahil Ahmed, Wesley Barresi, Shahbaz Bashir, Sebastiaan Braat, Mudassar Bukhari, Daan van Bunge, Daniel Doram, Tom de Grooth, Tim Gruijters, James Gruijters, Tom Heggelman, Alexei Kervezee, Ashan Malik, Paul van Meekeren, Stephan Myburgh, Pieter Seelaar, Michael Swart, Eric Szwarczynski and Vinoo Tewarie.