x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Emirates Cricket Board open to IPL-style competition

Pakistan Cricket Board behind movement to bring IPL-style Twenty20 tournament to UAE, but Emirati officials say they have not been approached.

Pakistani organisers envision a Twenty20 tournament in the UAE would generate excitement similar to this Cool & Cool Cup match between Pakistan vs New Zealand at Dubai Sports City.
Pakistani organisers envision a Twenty20 tournament in the UAE would generate excitement similar to this Cool & Cool Cup match between Pakistan vs New Zealand at Dubai Sports City.

DUBAI // UAE cricket administrators are open to the idea of staging an Indian Premier League-style Twenty20 tournament on these shores on behalf of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

Given the ongoing security concerns of international players over travelling to Pakistan, the PCB said they would struggle to attract enough star names to make a competition viable in their own country.

Instead they are looking to the Gulf, with Sultan Rana, the chief of the PCB's domestic cricket department, saying earlier this week that Dubai would be their ideal destination.

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Any potential tournament would probably be played at three venues, in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi, and would have to be sanctioned by the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB).

While they would be keen to host a high-profile competition befitting the top-class stadiums in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the ECB insist they have not been formally approached over the idea in recent times. However, Dilawar Mani, the chief executive of the ECB, believes the PCB's latest comments could be a revival of discussions which first took place two years ago.

"We have not had a request to stage an event, but obviously once we receive it, that is when the [ECB] will review it and look at the pros and cons," Mani said.

"We are not aware of it, as such. There was a discussion a couple of years ago, but nothing happened after that."

The UAE has been frequently linked to the game's most lucrative T20 competitions in the past.

Dubai Sports City bosses tentatively explored the possibility of bidding for an IPL franchise when the league expanded ahead of this season.

However, Lalit Modi, the former commissioner of the IPL, ruled the competition was only open to Indian-based sides, and Kochi and Pune were added instead.

Abu Dhabi was also mooted as a potential venue when Modi, as part of the spat which eventually brought his downfall, suggested Kochi were planning to base themselves in the capital while construction of their own home ground was taking place.

Mani ruled out any involvement in the IPL then, but has always expressed an open mind on the subject.

"Should there be a commercially viable proposal on a T20 format then of course we would be interested," he said back then.

The Emirates already have experience of staging T20 tournaments. Last year, the Bangladesh Cricket Board's own take on the IPL took place at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, and involved the majority of Pakistan's leading players.

The ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier, which has been expanded to 16 nations, will also return to Dubai Sports City next March.

The city hosted the event last year.

pradley@thenational.ae