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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Smooth start to T10 League 2.0 proves lack of time a speciality

If 11 days that follow opening night are anything similar, Season 2 will be a treat – despite the last-minute hiccups

One of the criticisms of short-format cricket is it is disposable. Have fun while it lasts, because it is not supposed to.

How much, after all, that is lasting and memorable can really be achieved in the course of a 10-over match?

T10, the newest and most abbreviated of all the sport’s forms, is basically the ultimate single-use cricket.

Some features of it do not even make it that far. In the days leading up to Wednesday’s start of Season 2, two sets of playing kits, plus reams of tournament bunting, had to be pulped.

Because of an ongoing feud between the league’s owner and founder Shaji Ul Mulk, and Salman Iqbal, its former president, two team names had had to be changed.

An injunction by a Pakistan court meant Karachians, one of the new teams, and Kerala Kings, the defending champions, had to alter their names. Too similar to Karachi Kings, the franchise Iqbal owns in the Pakistan Super League, apparently.

So, as late in the day as Sunday, the Kerala side became the Knights, and the Karachians became the Sindhis.

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The crossover is perplexing. While the name issue was perceived as enough of a conflict to bring about a court order, the involvement of the Karachi Kings president in the league is not.

Wasim Akram was in Dubai in his role as Maratha Arabians’ T10 coach last week. Then he flew back to Pakistan, swapped his colours for those of Karachi Kings and served in his role as their president during Tuesday’s PSL draft.

Then he hopped back on a plane to the UAE and was on stage with the Maratha side at the opening ceremony of T10 League 2.0 at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Wednesday night.

It is a good job the T10 League is good at dealing with a lack of time and notice. It is sort of its speciality, after all.

Ahead of the opening ceremony, all eight team buses were parked in close proximity, and the branding on the side of those of the Sindhis and Kerala teams was faultless. There was no gaudy graffiti crossing out the previous monikers and replacing it with new ones.

There was not even a stitch was out of place on the team crests of the blazers of the Kerala Knights team officials. It was like nothing untoward had happened.

In fact, the whole event passed off seamlessly. Unlike 12 months ago, the ceremony did not run late. The matches started on time. It was almost like everyone knew what they were doing this time around.

One early feature that is noticeably different to last year was the lack of a celebrity stand. In 2017 various celebrities were flown in from the subcontinent, and sat on armchairs near the boundary edge square of the wicket, with entourages from each of the franchises sat around them.

There is none of that this time, if opening night is anything to go on. There are still the loud musical interludes, cheerleaders, vivid spotlights, lasers, and wall-to-wall commerce that is basically de rigueur at any short-format tournament worth its salt.

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Read more:

Kerala Knights prove they are still T10 League kings with win

Day 1 predictions: Kerala off to flier as Rajputs also triumph

Team-by-team guide ahead of Season 2 of Sharjah tournament

T10 2.0 set to build on the first year despite lingering issues

Stephen Fleming embraces 'refreshing' role as Bengal coach

Rashid hopes Arabians' Afghan connection can light up league

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Aside from the opening ceremony of the T10 League, cricket was left to do the entertainment at Sharjah Cricket Stadium. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Aside from the opening ceremony of the T10 League, cricket was left to do the entertainment at Sharjah Cricket Stadium. Chris Whiteoak / The National

But, other than that, the cricket was largely left to provide the entertainment.

Turns out, it can still do a decent job of that. Especially when there are the likes of Mohammed Shahzad about, a born-entertainer who laced 74 in just 16 balls as Rajputs beat Sindhis with 10 overs to spare in the first match.

And the T10 League is giving scope for new performers to take the stage, too. In the second match of the night, a UAE fast bowler – Mohammed Naveed – and Nepal spinner – Sandeep Lamichhane – combined brilliantly to drag the defending champion side back into their game with Pakhtoon.

Throw-away fare it might have been. But it was good while it lasted. If the 11 days that follow opening night are anything similar, it will be a treat.