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07 December 2023

Professionals suit up to play cricket

From left: Venkat Raghavan of Everest Sports; Nalin Khaitan, Shahzad Altaf, Director, YTCA, and Dhakan. (SUPPLIED)

By V M Sathish

Professionals across the country are breaking out their cricket whites for this month's Gulf Cricket Cup, where 56 teams are expected to compete for eight winners' trophies.

The event, in its eighth year, is being organised by the Young Talents Cricket Academy under the auspices of the Abu Dhabi Cricket Academy. It began yesterday and runs until March 19 at various venues across the UAE, including the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi; Delhi Private School in Sharjah and Jebel Ali; and Zabeel Park, Dubai.

Speaking to Emirates Business, Nalin Khaitan, Director, Interface Transworld, which is organising the event, said this was the first time in its history that corporate teams were participating. Companies that are represented include Sanyo Gulf, Rufi Real Estate, Oudh Al Anfar, JS Trading Fanatics, Star Light Real Estate and Vertex Contracting.

"We have included corporate teams in this tournament because there are a number of teams playing cricket in Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman. Many of them go to the Northern Emirates to play cricket at the weekend. We are now giving them a platform to play in the tournament," said Khaitan, also a batsman with Interface.

The tournament will also see several young players taking part in teams including those for under 12s, under 16s, schools and colleges across the UAE.?Among these are participants from the American University of Sharjah, Middlesex University, BITS Pilani, Emirates Aviation College, Heriot Watt University, Mahe Manipal and the University of Wollongong in Dubai. "Many parents are keen on their children taking up cricket as a career.?They are thrilled and attracted by the charm and money involved in the game," Khaitan said.

The tournament is expected to see some exceptional performances in the 118 matches to be played over the one-month period, he said. Among the trophies being fought for are the Elite Cup, which will be competed for by the same eight teams that participated last year, and the Challenger Cup, which will feature eight teams.

Manish Dhakan, Tournament Director, said top performers will get a chance to play against English county champions, Durham County Cricket Club when they visit Abu Dhabi in March and April. "Geoff Cook, head coach at Durham will play the YTCA team in two one- day matches at Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium.


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