The stakes are getting higher and the incentives greater for cricketers showcasing their talent in the UAE with the richest Ramadan tournament set to get under way at the ICC Global Cricket Academy grounds from August 1.
Twelve leading teams in the country will battle for honours in the second Interface Ramadan Cup which offers total prize money of nearly Dh27,000.
"There has been a 78 per cent increase in prize money which has gone up from Dh15,000 last year," said Mohamed Lokhandwala, Honorary Secretary of the Dubai Cricket Counci (DCC) at a press conference held during the draw for the tournament at Imperial Suites hotel in Dubai on Thursday.
The winning team will receive Dh15,000 and the runners-up Dh10,000.
Lokhandwala thanked I.P Khaitan and Nalin Khaitan, the Directors of Interface Transworld, for their continued support to the game of cricket and to DCC.
"Our sincere and deepest gratitude to I.P. Khaitan, Nalin Khaitan and Interface Transworld for their great support. We now embark upon the close of the season with 12 teams top teams of the country playing in the 2nd Interface Ramadan Cup 2012," he said.
Nalin Khaitan who turns out for Interface Transworld, was elated at continuing the partnership.
"Ramadan is a favourite time of the year for all cricket lovers as cricket fever grips the nation and we enjoy exhilarating cricket on display from some of the best teams and players in the country and from abroad. We are very happy to be partnering Dubai Cricket Council and supporting them as it is our aim to support and help in developing the game amongst youngsters not only in the country but beyond borders as well. We are also participating with our team and will be inviting talent from overseas just like the other teamsare doing and take on the challenge with more passion," he said.
With four overseas players being allowed per team, players from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are expected to bolster them and add to the excitement of the tournament.
I.P Khaitan who sponsored the UAE National team during their World Cup qualifying in 1996 was happy to lend his support to DCC for their local tournaments and commended the Working Committee for their hard work in keeping cricket alive in the emirate of Dubai.
A total of 23 matches will be played during the Twenty20 extravaganza culminating with the final on September 12. The top two group will go to the quarter-final stage where the winning team with the best net run-rate will advance to the finals which the other two teams will playoff in a semifinal.
Defending champions Phoenix Medicine, last year's runners-up Yogi Group and Eurocon Alubond were the seeded teams at the draw.
UAE Exchange and Dollar rent a car are making their debut in the competition.
"The tournament will be conducted on a staggered during and after Ramadan. Eleven matches will be played during the month of Ramadan while the remaining 12 matches will be played after the month of Ramadan as the ICC GCA grounds are currently under maintenance," said Lokhandwala.
"In a first of its kind playing kits made with the latest sublimation technology will be provided for all 18 players with Iftaar and Dinner break snacks to all the 12 teams," he added.
During Ramadan month all matches will start at 8.30pm and finish at 11.30pm while after the month of Ramadan the games will start earlier at 7.30 pm and finish at 10.30 pm. Entrance to the ground is free.
Group ‘A’ – Yogi Group, Seven Seas Strikers, Ibsons Cricket Club and Farooq Cricket Club
Group ‘B’ – Phoenix Medicine, Nucaf Tellicherry, Interface Transworld and UAE Exchange.
Group ‘C’ – Eurocon, Dollar rent a car, Wings Group and Fly Emirates.